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.”
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 19 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, more than 4.6 million journeys are made in the UK. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.