Ukraine’s rail network, its employees and their families have been under extreme pressure since Russia’s full-scale invasion began last year.

 

Called upon to coordinate evacuation efforts during the early stages of the war, it has succeeded in maintaining a working service in spite of major infrastructure damage caused by Russian bombing alongside loss of revenue from normal levels of usage.

 

Many of its personnel have gone to fight on the front line, which has left their families to cope as best they can both with the drop in income and the stress of the ongoing war.

 

The UK chapter of the ALLRAIL European-based NGO and and the lobbying organization “Rail Partners” with donations provided by the UK’s rail companies have raised around £106,000 ($132,000) to provide over 7,000 food parcels for Ukrainian railway workers and their families. Each food package consists of staples, such as flour, rice, pasta, tinned fish and tinned meat, which has all been sourced in Ukraine.

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Commenting on the donations, Oleg Yakovenko, director of strategy and transformation at Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways said: “We are not saying that these families are starving. We had some acute situations last year but this year it’s better.

 

“More than 10,000 of our colleagues are serving right now in the army, and their families are with us and we don’t forget about them, so these food packages will find the way to those people who are in the most need.”

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Rail Partners chief executive Andy Bagnall said that the day to day running of railway even under normal conditions is extremely complex observing: “in the midst of the current conflict with Russia, the efforts of our colleagues at Ukrainian Railways have been remarkable.

 

“The railway is a critical means to transport vital supplies, evacuate civilians and support the wider economy. Ukraine’s rail workers have stepped up to deliver for their country alongside the Ukrainian armed forces. That is why as an industry we came together to support this great cause.”

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Yakovenko said that the expertise and support offered to Ukraine by the UK’s rail industry went further than providing humanitarian aid as it has stepped up to help restore infrastructure attacked by Russian bombing, which had been invaluable.

 

“One of the important areas for us are the bridges that the Russians have targeted. Network Rail know what is important so they have helped us with the machinery which is required to repair the damaged sections.”

 

Steve Montgomery, chairman of Rail Partners, said: “The ‘iron people’ of Ukraine have the full support of their railway family in Britain, and we are inspired by their commitment, ambition and resilience in this most testing of times.”

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