From Edinburgh to London Bridge, members of the railway family helped to spread some cheer over the Christmas period with acts of kindness, special train services and festive fundraising.
Following on from the success of a similar event at London Bridge station on Christmas day in 2017, a team of 30 Network Rail volunteers helped to provide dinner for 200 homeless guests on Christmas Eve at Birmingham New Street.
The station’s lower concourse was transformed into a huge dining hall with round tables set with soft drinks and Christmas crackers. A three-course vegetarian dinner – including tofu turkey – was served, presents and cards made by local schoolchildren were handed out and carols were sung for some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
The Christmas party was organised with the Midland Langar Seva Society, which hosts the event every year.
Network Rail staff weren’t the only ones to go the extra mile for rough sleepers. South Western Railway collected 480 shoe boxes full of items such as toothbrushes, socks, scarves, hats and non-perishable foods at Clapham Junction station.
Duty station manager Fiona Brown was the driving force behind the initiative, which saw fellow station staff donate 25 boxes full of goods.
A Christmas miracle
ScotRail came to the rescue of a five-year-old girl two days before Christmas when she lost her teddy ‘Frankfurter’.
Cath Mackay launched the hunt to find her daughter’s prized bear by tweeting for the first time and, by the power of the internet, he was found sat on a bench at Edinburgh Waverley station.
After being handed in to ScotRail staff, Frankfurter was fast tracked back to the family in Glasgow via a ride in the train driver’s cab – just in time for Christmas day – where he has been put on house arrest ever since…
How the Grinch made Christmas
Earlier in the month a different creature – the Grinch – was at the centre of a special East Midlands Trains service between Nottingham and Boston on the Poacher line.
The specially themed train, known as the ‘Whoville Express’ after the fictional character’s hometown, was organised for over 150 children and volunteers from the East Midlands to take them to a special screening of the new Grinch film. Many of the children came from underprivileged backgrounds and wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go to the cinema.
While on board the children were treated to a visit from Santa as well as the Grinch, who delivered presents donated by East Midlands Trains staff, and his dog.
Southeastern for the Singles Chart?
Finally, commuters couldn’t help but join in with a heart-warming rendition of Bill Withers’ ‘Lean On Me’ after a flash mob of station staff, police officers and charity workers burst into song at London Bridge station before Christmas.
The fundraising performance was organised by Railway Children and Southeastern and has been viewed more than 17,000 times on YouTube. Keep an eye out for the charity single!
Read more: Meet the rail industry heroes of 2018