First, an introduction. As the new Editor of RailStaff, I’m honoured to have been given the chance to work on this fine publication. I hope you’ll find that the content over the next 50 pages meets the magazine’s usual high standards and that it covers all the areas of interest relevant to our readership.
Second, an admission. While I have a fair amount of experience in the world of reporting, I’m rather new to the Rail Industry. As is the way with a career in journalism, you take the opportunities when they’re presented to you, but very often discover yourself in new and unusual territory. There’s a cynical term for this – ‘parachute journalism’ – but over the years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being dropped into new areas of interest and endeavouring to become an expert in a very short space of time.
What I’ve discovered in my brief time in post is an industry that is not only essential to the everyday operation of the country, and which is staffed by dedicated and hard-working employees, but one which is also a technical marvel (though very modest about it), and which is crucial to the development of the UK as a greener, more agile economy.
As an outsider coming in, I am amazed that more praise is not lavished on our remarkable rail network, with its rich history and its focus on the future, not to mention the phenomenal effort required just to keep the wheels turning.
That’s not to say it’s an industry without its fair share of problems. From financial sustainability to ageing infrastructure, along with the challenges of decarbonisation and regrowth in the wake of Covid-19, the railway faces many hurdles in the years ahead. The recent news that operators are falling back on diesel trains in response to the energy crisis, and that staff cuts are visible on the horizon, are testament to this.
But the ambition and dedication to meet these challenges is clearly there, and this can be seen in the way staff across the industry responded to the pressures of the pandemic and delivered for customers under some of the most challenging circumstances we’ll ever experience.
I’ve also been struck by the sense of family and fellowship running throughout the industry, marked by the concern that staff have for the safety of their colleagues and customers, as well as the enthusiasm with which individuals and organisations throw themselves into the many charitable causes run for, and by, the railway. I’ve felt truly welcomed by this industry and it seems criminal that the general public rarely hear good news about it in the wider press. It’s time for that to change. It’s crucial that we spread the word about how magnificent our rail network really is.
I look forward to producing many more issues of RailStaff and learning more about this first-class industry. Moving onwards, I’ll do my utmost both to provide you with top quality content and to champion the cause of rail employees.