Orange army gear up for biggest ever Christmas upgrade: Dave Kidd with Haris Mirza,

Thursday 22 Dec 2016

Orange army gear up for biggest ever Christmas upgrade


As most people are starting to wind down for Christmas, for many Network Rail staff the hard work is just starting.


The largest Christmas upgrade in Network Rail history is due to begin on December 24 running through to January 2, 2017. Across the Great Western mainline, stretching from Cardiff to London Paddington and through to Shenfield in east London, a huge £85m worth of investment will be underway, with hundreds of Network Rail employees giving up their Christmas to make sure all the work is completed on time.


One such worker is 33-year-old Haris Mirza. As a Muslim who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Haris has volunteered to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so colleagues don’t have to and can spend time with their families.


Haris, a project manager for Network Rail said: “If I wasn’t working I wouldn’t be doing anything special anyway because I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I was happy to volunteer to cover during Christmas as there are not many people who are looking to work away from their families.”


Haris will be working on the on the Royal Wootton Bassett A3102 Bath Road bridge, which is scheduled to see demolition works take place over Christmas because the railway will be closed.


Haris continued: “I am working during Christmas and Boxing Day nights to mainly assist with reporting of the progress of the works and making sure everything is carried out in a safe manner,” he said.


“I have worked for a lot of different industries and Network Rail is a very forward thinking company. The people are fantastic and it’s a great working environment – always pushing me to learn more, to contribute more. I have had some really good mentors in the past and we’re a really good team. If I wasn’t working I wouldn’t be doing much – it would be like a normal weekend I suppose and I am just pleased I can help out my colleagues,” added Haris.”


His manager Dave Kidd, will also be working over Christmas as he is overseeing the project, but says that volunteers like Haris, who are happy and willing to work Christmas, make his job a lot easier. He said: “It’s very important that we do have that commitment from staff–  as sometimes it’s hard to fill the shifts with the right quality personnel., especially the night-time shift which Haris is covering.


“However it is important we work over Christmas, mainly because the tracks are shut. The trains are not running so if we do the work during this particular period then there’s less disruption to the public, and we don’t have to block the lines at some other time and cause more inconvenience,” he said.


Dave, 60, will be managing 35 people who will be working over Christmas Day and Boxing Day - just one of many Network Rail teams giving up their Christmas to make sure the work gets done.


He added “I will start on site at 6am on Christmas Day through to around 3pm and it will be the same on Boxing Day. I will be managing the project and making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.


“It obviously does have an impact. I’m lucky that most of my children have left home now but I’ve got a couple of young kids at home and we will delay our Christmas Day basically until I get home in the late afternoon and we’ll take it from there.”

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Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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