HomeBusinessInfrastructure OwnersThe latest effort from the UK railways to help Ukraine

The latest effort from the UK railways to help Ukraine

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Network Rail has come to the aid of those in our international rail family, taking a convoy of vehicles full of equipment to help Ukrainian Railways.

Ukrainian Railways, or Ukrzaliznytsia, asked for help through the International Union of Railways. Specifically, it asked for equipment and spares to help keep their railway running to provide vital evacuation routes and humanitarian aid.

Needless to say, the railways in Ukraine have faced great adversity since being invaded by Russia. Rail lines have been attacked, and in one terrible tragedy a railway station was bombed, killing at least 52 people.

Helped by partners in the supply chain, Network Rail heeded the call and donated four vehicles, loaded with spares and railway tools including generators, drills, jacks and cutting equipment. They were delivered on 16 May.

Five Network Rail staff drove the four vehicles through six countries, covering some 2,000km in three days to Poland. However, the final part of the journey, across the border into Ukraine, is being managed by Polish Railways.

Allan Spence, Network Rail’s director of regulator liaison, said: “We didn’t hesitate when the request for help came through. We often talk about the railway family here in Britain, but the family has international connections too. Anyone who has watched the news over the last few months has been moved by what they’ve seen and that spurred us into action.

“We took the vehicles loaded with much-needed equipment to a depot near the Polish-Ukrainian border. We had lots of help along the way – like complimentary travel through the channel tunnel, radios loaned by High Motive and help to get back from Polish Railways (PKP). And the loads we took included lots of kit from our contractors.”

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “It’s inspiring that Network Rail have used their knowledge and expertise to help keep the Ukrainian railways moving by providing vital equipment and aid for their evacuation routes.

“Our fantastic transport network continues to demonstrate huge amounts of support and generosity to those fleeing Putin’s brutal invasion.”

The latest chapter in an international effort

There are other initiatives that are also reaching out to help Ukrainian Railways. UK Rail for Ukraine is a cross industry initiative that set up by volunteers to get more than a million items of aid to Ukraine.

The first of its aid trains left on a special DB Cargo service carrying more than 1,500 tonnes consisting of a range of aid, including non-perishable food, hygiene and medical products, basic living equipment, and other much-needed supplies that have been donated from a wide range of businesses and organisations following requests for aid from the Ukrainian authorities.

It carried 24 shipping containers in a 500-metre train as part of an effort given support or donations from Network Rail, DB Cargo UK, Govia Thameslink Railway, Porterbrook and RSSB among many others.

Meanwhile, the Support Ukraine Task Force, made up of Rail Officials from the US and Europe, was set up to help coordinate efforts in the country.

Rallying despite adversity

Not that Ukrzaliznytsia is without agency in this conflict. It has consistently run trains to get people out of dangerous areas, and worked to constantly improve its offering to people despite the odds stacked against them.

For example, the railways recently added art to its stations —  including 54 works by Ukrainian artist Nina Morozova — changed services to better tie in with Polish counterparts and made its Kyiv to Warsaw services faster by two hours.

That, and they have renamed a train route in honour of its winning Eurovision song contest entry, calling it the “Stefania Express”.

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