Wednesday 25 Mar 2020
TV documentary shows complexities of homelessness for Network Rail and BTP
Veteran railway worker Dennis Ash responds to reports of a homeless person encamped beneath the West Coast main line in an ITV documentary on Network Rail tomorrow (Thurs) night.
The 66-year-old mobile operations manager, or MOM for short, features in the final episode of ‘The Station: Trouble on the Tracks,’ a behind-the-scenes series on the railway between Birmingham New Street and London Euston airing on ITV at 9pm on Thursday 26 March.
Dennis, who’s worked on the railway for 42 years, finds the homeless person’s set-up, complete with solar panels, under a railway arch near Willesden in north London.
Potentially posing a threat to the railway above, Dennis works with the British Transport Police to investigate and make the area safe.
Dennis said: “In all my time on the railway I’d never seen anything like it. The small dwelling had power and a cooking stove and I really felt for the person living there. But that person was risking life and limb crossing live tracks on Europe’s busiest mixed-use passenger and freight railway line.
“It shows how diverse the range of issues me and my colleagues face and how closely we work with British Transport Police to keep passengers and the public safe.”
The episode also features British Transport Police supporting homeless people in and around Euston station, and a festive banquet for 350 vulnerable people on Birmingham New Street station’s concourse on Christmas Eve.
Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “I’m proud of Dennis for his sensitive and compassionate handling of this incident at Willesden. Homelessness is a real problem in Britain and many people are drawn to the railway to find warmth and sanctuary. But however desperate people are for shelter, the railway is dangerous and must never be trespassed on.”
The documentary team spent six weeks filming on Network Rail’s Central and West Coast Main Line South routes in November and December last year. They captured footage in the busy run-up to Christmas, during extreme weather events and a period of industrial action.
Tim added: “I hope this series has given ITV viewers an insight into the wide-ranging challenges our people face as we strive to keep Britain moving every day.
“Today, of course, we face a new challenge - Coronavirus. The railway’s role in Britain’s response to this crisis is to keep critical supplies and key workers moving. We are working tirelessly to do just that.”
All three episodes of ‘The Station: Trouble on the tracks’ are available to watch on catch up on the ITV Hub.
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About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. 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.