UK rail industry builds bridges with Ukrainian counterparts

Network Rail, the British infrastructure management agency, has been working with rail industry partners under the banner UK Rail for Ukraine. The agency has detailed its latest collaboration with the industry across the UK. Freight operators have been playing a leading role. The combined effort has again delivered large quantities of aid supporting rail colleagues in Ukraine. 

The rail industry in the United Kingdom has come together to support their counterpart in the war-torn nation of Ukraine. The effort has been made in the spirit of solidarity, in recognising the key role the railway has played in delivering people to safety and providing vital supplies to the front line. The sector in Ukraine has been targeted repeatedly by Russian invasion forces, despite the humanitarian role played in delivering civilians away from conflict areas.

Standard designs for immediate repairs

Network rail has been in a favourable position to assist the railway in Ukraine. That has been made more possible by something for which the agency has been criticised at home. The standardised infrastructure installation, which observers have criticised for their functional appearance and lack of aesthetics, has proved a valuable resource for speedy repairs. Network Rail has supplied prefabricated installations to make rapid repairs to the network in Ukraine.

In collaboration with operators, suppliers and contractors, Network Rail has supplied eight railway bridges and around thirty bridge support tower and tunnel repair systems. Using tried and tested designs has allowed infrastructure systems to be deployed in critical locations, keeping as much of the Ukrainian network open as possible. There has been a particular focus on Ukraine’s essential routes.

UK Rail for Ukraine initiative

Network Rail has revealed that senior staff and infrastructure engineering specialists have been working with Ukrainian colleagues.“We have been on the ground in Ukraine to see the work in progress”, said Peter Gibbons, Network Rail chief of security. “We have seen the difficult conditions under which the Ukrainian Railway is working. They have already lost 300 colleagues during this conflict, and the personal stories from their employees are heartbreaking”, he said.

British television viewers have seen for themselves the pressures faced by the railway community in Ukraine. Among the many disturbing images from the country was footage from the cab of a service forced to halt in the face of a column of Russian tanks rolling over the rails directly in front of the approaching train.

Large quantities of aid

Network Rail has further revealed that an aid train left Britain last week. A special DB Cargo UK service departed the UK, bound for Poland, where it was received by organisations working on the ground. The train is part of an initiative named UK Rail for Ukraine. An earlier aid train was the subject of this video released by the operator.

Operators, including DB Cargo UK, have been dispatching train loads of aid since the beginning of the invasion to help displaced and distressed civilians. The UK Rail for Ukraine project was set up by volunteers in early February 2022 to facilitate the delivery of large quantities of aid items to those affected by the crisis in the country caused by the invasion.

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