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RailStaff December 2019: The next chapter

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Going from one year into the next often feels like the beginning of a new chapter. Only, for 2020, there are significant new chapters in several stories.

On December 8, the 21:42 direct service from London Euston to Wolverhampton brought a close to Virgin Trains’ 22-year spell on the West Coast main line and marked the end of the iconic brand in the UK – at least for now. Destinations on the West Coast main line will now be served by Avanti West Coast.

Looking to the political sphere, voters headed to the polls shortly after this issue went to print to decide who should lead the country and in what direction – and, coincidentally, RailStaff is now undergoing a similar change as I stand down to take on a new challenge. Until a permanent successor is appointed, Nigel Wordsworth, of sister title Rail Engineer, will oversee the production of the rail industry’s positive periodical.

Championing everyday railway workers for extraordinary feats of courage, kindness and skill has been at the forefront of my approach as editor. Kevin Beechey, the station postmaster who discovered an explosive package at London Waterloo; Ruby Bhogal (pictured below), the project manager and Great British Bake Off runner-up; and Metrolink duo Caroline Haynes and Stephen Shaw, who achieved Britain’s best finish at the European Tram Driver Championships, are just some of the standout stories covered by RailStaff this year that would have otherwise gone untold.

Each issue has detailed the tales of unsung heroes and, in this final editor’s note, this seems a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to a railway hero of my own. Very much a quiet man, the actions of John ‘Jack’ Daft, a steam and later diesel train driver based out of Toton Sidings, spoke louder than any words ever could as his hard work helped to shape the lives of his family – including that of his grandchild he never had the opportunity to meet: me. 

Enter ‘railway magazine’ into Google and you’ll find dozens of trade and consumer titles but there’s nothing quite like RailStaff, which is uniquely positioned as the only publication that prioritises people over trains, track and technology in its coverage – and it’s a people-first approach I’ll carry with me. RailStaff’s upbeat style hasn’t meant ignoring criticism or concerns either, but rather approaching those topics in a constructive way. 

Years of reporting on the rail industry has left me with many great memories and proud achievements to treasure, and I want to thank you for your support along the way. One thing I’ll miss above all else is being an active part of the railway family. Never before have I felt so welcomed in an industry. Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping an eye on major developments and hope to never again read about a fatality on the railway.

Enjoy yourself if you’re having a well-deserved break at Christmas, and thank you for your sacrifice if you’re working through. Either way, may the new year, and your next chapter, be a successful and happy one.  

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