The chief executive of Network Rail has praised the rail industry for its efforts in transporting thousands of passengers to London to pay their respects to the Queen.
Andrew Haines was among those attending Her Majesty’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, saying he was representing the thousands of people who work at Network Rail.
Posting on his Linkedin account on Monday, he said: “Today we said goodbye and across the railway there are thousands of employees working diligently to keeping services running smoothly.
“I would like to once again thank them all for their efforts and for their care to the public during this period of sorrow.”
Andrew said the Queen was a fan of the railway, at countless points during her 70-year reign visit the railway or use her Royal Train to travel to events of ceremonial occasions. Just this year, she visited London Paddington station to officially open the Elizabeth line.
“Throughout her life, she has witnessed our railways transform and pioneer, from the age of steam to the electric and high-speed railways we build today,” his post continued.
“It has been an honour for the railway family to have the Queen join us on this journey. Either as a welcomed visitor to one of our stations or as a passenger, we will forever have a sense of pride at being able to serve Her Majesty.
“Right across Network Rail and our railway family, there will be colleagues who will look up and be inspired by her spirit and the legacy left by her devotion to duty – I count myself as one of those people.
“In April 2016, I had the joy to meet her, as she presented me with an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to transport. She was gracious and inquisitive.”
Ahead of the funeral on Monday, train operators were tested by the thousands of people visiting London for the Lying-in-State. On Friday, Transport for London saw 3.02 million Tube journeys across the capital – up nine per cent compared to the previous Friday and concentrated in central London, and around 72 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Train operators LNER and CrossCountry also created special overnight waiting areas for those attending the Lying-in-State and unable to get back home.
For CrossCountry, it was for those paying their respects at St Giles Cathedral. A train was stabled at Edinburgh station overnight to shelter any passengers waiting for early morning services.
Managing director Tom Joyner said: “CrossCountry was honoured to be able to play a small part in supporting passengers who had travelled up to Edinburgh to pay their respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“The train acted as a welcoming space for people to wait and seek refreshments before continuing their journeys the following morning. As a cross-border operator, running services across Great Britain, we were proud to be able to help at this significant time for our nation.”
Added to the huge numbers of visitors, Network Rail staff worked overnight on Monday to fix overhead power cables between Reading and London Paddington with disruption starting on Monday and continuing into Tuesday.
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “We are extremely proud of the efforts made by colleagues across the entire rail industry during the mourning period for Her Majesty The Queen.
“As the country came together to pay tribute to our late monarch over the last week, railway staff did an incredible job helping to deliver commemorations and events throughout Britain.”
Photo credit: Network Rail