Special preparations are in place across the UK’s light and heavy railways to mark 100 years since the end of World War One.
Ahead of Remembrance Day, many operators are offering free travel for retired or serving members of the armed forces while others have gone the extra mile to honour those who have suffered or died in war.
Some of Chiltern Railways’ ex-forces employees were joined by Gurkhas to present a special train with a poppy vinyl at Marylebone station for London Poppy Day on November 1.
The train operator said it wanted to “do something special” to honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on this landmark anniversary, and it was not alone.
c2c is commemorating the forthcoming anniversary by naming a Class 357 train after the 88 local railwaymen who died in the Great War.
‘Remembering our Fallen 88’ refers to the number of men who worked for the London, Tilbury and Southend section of the Midland Railway and died during the conflict.
German national railway company Deutsche Bahn, which operates in the UK through such subsidiaries as DB Cargo UK and ESG Rail, has also announced plans to rename one of its Class 66 locomotives ‘Armistice 100 1918-2018’.
Elsewhere, Transport for London plans to decorate 14 stations with poppy vinyls and tram operator Nottingham Express Transit is supporting the Games of Remembrance – between football teams from the UK and German Armed Forces – with special fares.
Railwaymen on the frontline
Having worked in a safety critical environment with numerous transferrable skills, many ex-forces personnel have found work in the rail industry over the years.
However, 100 years ago, workers moved in the opposite direction.
When war broke out in 1914, some 100,000 rail workers enlisted to join the fight – a big chunk of the 700,000 workforce.
In total, researchers believe 186,475 railway workers served between 1914 and 1918 – almost 20,000 of those losing their lives.
On May 14, 1919, six months after the Armistice was signed, a service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London to commemorate the contribution of the railways during the war, and particularly in memory of the railwaymen who died in the service of their country.
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