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Network Rail employee recognised in HM The King’s New Year Honours List for Ukraine Rail Aid work

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Network Rail enployee Zoe Sookun has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the railway through her work in project managing the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project. 

Zoe project managed the £10m Network Rail aid package to Ukrainian Railways this year, including the delivery of:

  • Eight bridge spans to replace damaged bridge decks
  • Bridge supports to replace damaged abutments
  • Four heavy JCB construction machines to assist with grain export
  • Containers for grain export
  • Automated railway inspection equipment to enable accurate inspection of bomb damage
  • Rapid tunnel repair system for fixing damaged railway tunnels

Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) made a passionate speech at the annual general meeting of the International Union of Railways, praising Network Rail and the DfT as the only organisations providing practical help. The railways are vitally important in Ukraine, with 60% of freight transported by rail. 

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said:

“Zoe’s dedication to supporting the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project has been inspiring. She represents the very best of us and richly deserves this recognition. Thank you for all your hard work and many congratulations!” 

Zoe Sookun BEM said:

“I am so proud to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for delivery of the £10m Rail Aid package into Ukraine. This was unlike anything I had ever managed; it was more than a project; it was a personal mission. I felt immense responsibility to succeed, having to quickly upskill in new areas to manage risks effectively, which was a little overwhelming at times, but knowing what we were delivering and why, kept me going until the end.

Zoe Sookun BEM

“What was achieved is not just a testament to one person, but to the amazing team of people that supported, encouraged, and remained dedicated throughout. From my colleagues at Network Rail, to the DfT, our amazing Supply Chain, and those at UZ (Ukrzaliznytsia – Ukraine’s equivalent to Network Rail), who worked tirelessly alongside me, to stringent timescales and through so many complexities, to deliver what will provide a lasting benefit to Ukraine.

“I cannot put in to words the emotions I felt when I visited the depot and saw the containers filled with bridging equipment being loaded on to the wagons. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief that we had done it! Being able to see the loaded trains leave and then travelling to Poland to sign over the aid to UZ will be a memory that I will hold on to for years to come.”

Image credit: Network Rail