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RailStaff June 2018: Testing times

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The Rail Partnership Awards this month was a celebration of what the industry can achieve when it works together, said Mark Carne, delivering his swansong as Network Rail CEO. In September, he will step down and Andrew Haines, CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority and an experienced railway executive, will take his place. It will be the start of a new era.

Mark is right; there’s plenty to be proud of from the past year and there was one winner from the night which perfectly illustrated the rail industry at its best.

Dealing with fatalities on the railway is a harrowing task for our colleagues around the network. During my time in the industry, it has become clear that these incidents have a lasting impact that we’re only now starting to appreciate and understand.

Following a particularly difficult incident in 2016, the British Transport Police (BTP) were left questioning their processes for recovering bodies on the railway and, as a result, developed the Incident Response Stretcher (IRS). The way the IRS was designed and rolled out demonstrates great technical ingenuity but it also shows a level of compassion and consideration for wellbeing that we can all appreciate.

There are plenty of other examples in this month’s issue of the industry working together to achieve extraordinary goals. Our projects issue includes schemes at very different stages in their development. We look back at the Crossrail programme as it approaches the final straight and speak to Network Rail major programme director Chris Montgomery about the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU).

The June issue also includes news about the new Wales and Borders franchise and Colin Wheeler gives his assessment of the RAIB’s annual report, which was recently published.

But for everything we have to celebrate, it comes at a time when the railway isn’t working well for many people. Regular users of GTR and Northern can be forgiven for not sharing Mark Carne’s enthusiasm.

Staff safety was also brought sharply into focus with the fatality in Glasgow earlier this month. Investigators at the ORR and HSE will determine if there are lessons to be learnt, but the loss will be felt by the railway community around the country. All of us at RailStaff extend our deepest condolences to their family, friends and colleagues.

It isn’t for me to dismiss the concerns of passengers. Late or cancelled services aren’t just an inconvenience – they disrupt our lives. But, as an insider looking out, I know that Network Rail and the train operators want to find a solution as much as passengers do. There’s no pride in running a railway if it’s failing its passengers, and few take as much pride in their work as the men and women of GB rail.

[email protected].

Read more: RailStaff June 2018 – Crossrail, the Great North Rail Project and the Return of the Rail Partnership Awards