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Two inspirational Network Rail workers have been recognised for their work during the Covid pandemic at a celebratory reception at 10 Downing Street.

Haji Mustaq, Network Rail station manager for London Paddington and Emma Van Leer, Network Rail business continuity project manager, have been recognised for going above and beyond in contributing to the railway over the last 18 months.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Frontline transport workers kept this country moving throughout the pandemic and for that, they deserve our profound thanks.

“I’d like to personally thank Haji Mustaq and Emma Van Leer, who were not only instrumental to Network Rail’s response to Covid-19, but went above and beyond outside of work to volunteer support to other critical workers in the NHS.”

Haji Mustaq said: “It was an honour and a privilege to attend the event as a representative of Network Rail and the London Paddington station team.

“It was a once in a life time experience to be able to converse with our Prime Minister and Secretary of State about how proud I am of my colleagues and how we all worked together, supporting one another, while facing some of the toughest of challenges during lockdown.”

Throughout the pandemic, many frontline workers and people who were required to travel to work needed to continue using the railway. Haji was recognised for his efforts in ensuring his team kept the busy London Paddington station running, safe and clean during the peak months of the pandemic. In addition to carrying out his day-to-day role, Haji was also recognised for actively encouraged members of his team to volunteer at local hospitals, including St Mary’s Hospital which neighbours Paddington.

PPE has and continues to play an integral role in helping reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protecting NHS and frontline workers. As business continuity project manager, Emma Van Leer was recognised because of the pivotal role she played in supporting Network Rail’s Wales and Western region’s response to Covid-19 by helping ensure a continuous supply of PPE reached the thousands of frontline staff who worked throughout the pandemic. Emma was also recognised for encouraging fellow members of her team to assist local NHS Trusts.

Emma Van Leer, Network Rail business continuity project manager, said: “It’s a real honour to be recognised and is testament to the whole team for how we pulled together throughout the pandemic.

“Everyone in Network Rail wanted to play their part in keeping vital freight and key workers moving. It was also great that we were able to do so much to support the NHS.”

Haji and Emma were joined by other Network Rail colleagues and Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail at the event which celebrated the efforts of frontline transport workers across the country during the pandemic.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “I’m immensely proud of all the Network Rail members of the railway family for playing such a pivotal role in keeping people and goods moving – particularly our front line workers who selflessly continued day-in-day-out.

“To be invited to attend a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the role that front line transport workers have played during the pandemic is a great honour, one you should all feel immensely proud of, and reflects on every one of our colleagues too.

“Let’s maintain this positive momentum as we continue to welcome our passengers back to the railway.”