Rail industry organisations, including Network Rail, will commemorate the thousands of railway workers who lost their lives during World War One.

Network Rail will join organisations including membership body Rail Delivery Group, rail operators Transport for London and Irish Rail, travel operator Translink, and trade body Rail Industry Association in recreating a special memorial service at Southwark Cathedral on Wednesday 6 November.

The Railway Workers Centenary Memorial Service will pay homage to the original special service, thought to have been organised at the request of King George V to recognise the contribution made by the railways during the conflict.

More than 20,000 railway workers from Britain lost their lives during WWI, after more than 100,000 enlisted when war broke out.

In recognition, on 14 May, 1919 – a little over six months after the Armistice – a service took place at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, for the railwaymen who had died.

Armistice Day at Paddington station, 1921

The centenary service is by invitation only. Please register your interest at www.rwcms.co.uk.

The railway suffered heavily during and immediately after the war, with its infrastructure left in near ruins after a lack of investment and overuse by the military.

In peacetime, the army dumped its surplus-to-requirement vehicles onto the open market, drawing even more people away from the railway. Meanwhile, the railway’s workforce had been decimated.

Read more about the role of the railway during WWI:

Remembrance across the railway

We will remember them

From the archive: WWI and the railway