The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the globe, and this year’s Rail Team of the Year award went to a group of amazing volunteers who stepped up to act in the face of this tragedy.
UK Rail for Ukraine, a cross-industry initiative set up by volunteers in early 2022, mobilised to despatch much-needed aid items to help Ukrainian citizens. They were inspired by the ‘Train for Life’ which transported essential supplies to the people of Kosovo back in 1999.
In February 2022, as the number of Ukrainian citizens displaced by Russia’s invasion started to grow rapidly, the group took action. After the idea of an aid train was suggested on LinkedIn, hundreds of volunteers and supporters came forward. A virtual team was quickly formed and started to contact charities and other organisations to share the idea and seek guidance on what could be most useful to people in Ukraine.
Each partner organisation and individual stepped up, juggling their day job, and donations were sourced from organisations across the country. Moving all the donated items, loading containers, producing all the documentation required, and planning the journey took many hours of volunteers’ time, and significant support from rail industry organisations and government teams.
After a frantic few weeks, the UK Rail for Ukraine train was waved off from London on 7 April.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to have won the award,” said Chris Docker, managing director of Symposium Consulting. “It’s a recognition of the huge number of people across the country who came together, from within the rail industry but also without.
“We had fantastic contributions from corporate sponsors, who stepped up within a matter of days after we contacted them. We raised 1000 tonnes of aid to start up an initial relief effort to Ukraine and that’s ongoing today. It just shows what the UK rail industry can do when it comes together on a voluntary basis. Wonderful.”
The Rail Team of the Year Award was sponsored by Total Rail Solutions (TRS). TRS provides operated and non-operated road-rail plant, sub-contracting services, and labour provision to rail sites across the UK. Working with leading contractors, the company has supported some of the most UK’s most prestigious rail projects.
Dartmoor (Okehampton) Project Team, Great Western Railway / Network Rail
Kilsby Delivery Team, Central Rail Systems Alliance (CRSA)