Key railway workers play vital role in the fight against Covid-19

Key railway workers enabled 370,000 tonnes of vital food, medicine and other supplies to be moved last week.

Key railway workers are continuing to play a vital role in the fight against Covid-19, and last week enabled more than 370,000 tonnes of freight to be moved between west London and Cornwall and into and across Wales to support the economy, the NHS, petrol at the pumps and food in shops.

Network Rail teams have kept the railway open throughout the coronavirus outbreak and have put steps in place to ensure key workers can get to their critical jobs and to move thousands of tonnes of vital supplies by freight.

A reduced passenger timetable was introduced last Monday (23 March) so a reliable service would be in operation to get key workers such as NHS staff to work, while allowing more freight trains to run to meet demand.

The 370,000 freight tonnes moved last week included 1,200 tonnes every day of food and medicine for shops, 2,000 tonnes every day of tinplate from Llanelli to create food cans and petroleum products from south Wales to keep the railway’s vital supply chain moving.

Another vital service that has been maintained is the removal of household waste from major cities including London.

The amount of food being moved on the railway by freight across Wales and between west London and Cornwall last week increased by 20%.

Network Rail says it has been possible to meet this demand thanks to the dedication of its workforce, who have continued to work as they are listed as key workers by the government, and the help of passengers who have taken advice of only to travel when it is essential.

Mark Langman, managing director for Network Rail’s Wales and Western region, said: “I am incredibly proud of the role Network Rail teams have played in keeping our railway open for key workers and critical freight supplies.

“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to help the NHS or other emergency staff get to their places of work and we wouldn’t have been able to help keep power stations going, petrol at the pumps, medicines available and vital supplies in our shops.

“It has been a challenge particularly operating and maintaining the railway where colleagues are required in the work place. We have had to reduce some of our work to prioritise vital supplies and key workers. We are working closely with government and transport partners and will continue to do so.”

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