An estimated 900,000 people will be working on Christmas Day in the UK this year.
Hitting the headlines will be the emergency service, military and nursing staff who all forgo time with family and friends to keep us all safe during the festive period. But on top of these committed workers, there are many other professions which go under the radar when it comes to recognising Christmas workers.
Rail engineers up and down the country will be working right across the Christmas period, in order to carry out rail infrastructure upgrades at a time when there is the least impact to rail commuters. Many of these workers will spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day away from home, staying in hotels near to specific rail projects.
Ashley Newman, a Signalling Test Engineer will be working on rail upgrades in the Didcot area this Christmas. He has worked over Christmas for the past six years and as a father of two, with a new baby on the way, leaving his family over the Christmas period is particularly difficult.
“Christmas is a time when the rail infrastructure can be shut down to minimise impact to the general public, allowing critical work to take place. Basically, as much of the country goes quiet for Christmas, work on the railway steps right up! I generally start work on Christmas Eve night and some years this lasts for ten shifts. I try to get home to see my family on Christmas Day but generally I have to head back to work that evening or very early on Boxing Day. I’ve been lucky enough to work on projects near enough to home to allow me to get back to see my family but I know some people who have to stay in hotels and can’t see family at all. Even so, leaving my young children at such an exciting time is very hard as no matter how hard you try, you can’t replicate those emotions a few days later. To help me get through Christmas working, I focus on the week I will have off with my family once everything returns to normal”, says Ashley.
Daniel Lovejoy is responsible for placing rail signalling contractors over the Christmas period, he says; “Unfortunately the need to cause minimum disruption to the rail network means that large works are undertaken at the quietest points in the year. We understand that it can be very difficult for our contractors to be away from family and friends over Christmas so we want to highlight their work and thank them for their commitment during this time. We hope they find the time to enjoy some of the festive fun and that they stay safe”.
If you have ever worked over the Christmas period, do you have any special way of making sure you still feel festive? Please leave us your comments. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy 2017.