UK Train Companies Provide Thousands of Food Parcels for Ukrainian Railway Workers
Support from UK Rail Companies
Several UK train companies have joined forces to provide thousands of food parcels for Ukrainian railway workers and their families. The initiative, coordinated by industry body Rail Partners, raised nearly £106,000 in donations to support this humanitarian effort. As a result, a total of 7,056 food parcels will be distributed to Ukrainian railway employees and their loved ones through the Global Ukraine Rail Task Force.
Ukraine’s Rail Network Under Pressure
Ukraine’s rail network has faced immense challenges since Russia’s invasion in February of the previous year. It played a crucial role in coordinating the mass evacuation of people during the early stages of the conflict and has suffered significant infrastructure damage due to bombings. Additionally, the sector has had to cope with the loss of workers who have gone to fight on the front lines, leading to reduced revenue from both freight and passenger usage.
Details of the Food Parcels
Each food package costs approximately £15 and contains essential staples like flour, rice, pasta, and tinned fish and meat, all sourced from within Ukraine. These parcels have been funded by private sector members of Rail Partners, including companies like Arriva and FirstGroup.
Support for Ukrainian Railway Workers
Oleg Yakovenko, director of strategy and transformation at JSC Ukrainian Railways, the company responsible for Ukraine’s railways, emphasized the importance of this assistance. While he noted that the families are not starving, he pointed out that the average salary of railway workers in Ukraine is relatively low compared to European standards. Inflation and currency devaluation due to the war have further compounded their financial challenges. Yakovenko highlighted that more than 10,000 railway colleagues are currently serving in the army, and these food packages will reach those who are in the most need.
Infrastructure Support from Network Rail
Yakovenko also mentioned the crucial support provided by Network Rail in restoring infrastructure damaged by Russian bombings, particularly the repair of bridges, which have been targeted by Russian forces.
Industry Acknowledges Remarkable Efforts
Rail Partners’ chief executive, Andy Bagnall, commended the exceptional efforts of Ukrainian Railways during the ongoing conflict with Russia. He emphasized the critical role of railways in transporting essential supplies, evacuating civilians, and supporting the broader economy. Bagnall stressed that Ukrainian rail workers have played a crucial part in delivering for their country alongside the armed forces, making their work and decisions more significant than ever.
Solidarity and Support
Steve Montgomery, managing director of FirstGroup’s rail business and chairman of Rail Partners, expressed the UK rail industry’s commitment to sharing expertise and supporting their Ukrainian counterparts. He praised the dedication, ambition, and resilience of Ukraine’s railway workers during these challenging times, emphasizing the solidarity and support from their railway family in Britain.