This Remembrance Sunday, the centenary of the end of WWI, Network Rail employee Alan Pattison will lay a wreath at Durham Cathedral.
Together, the rail industry is joining The Royal British Legion in saying thank you to all who served and sacrificed during the conflict. About 20,000 railway staff lost their lives after more than 100,000 enlisted when war broke out.
Supporting today’s Armed Forces
Alan (pictured with his wife Emma) is one of many modern railway workers in the military. He’s a head of engineering for the London North Eastern route and a reservist with the Royal Air Force (RAF).
We’re proud to support staff in the Armed Forces and on 27 June – Reserves Day – re-signed the Armed Forces Covenant. It reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring the fair treatment of those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces.
Network Rail first signed the covenant in 2015. Since then it has worked closely with the Ministry of Defence to transition skills into the rail industry and develop a forces-friendly environment with its workplace.
As RAF personnel, Alan has an extra two weeks away from work each year to help him balance his military duties with his role at Network Rail.
Alan said: “It's another full-time job planning my year. My role of leading a team of project managers is full-on. Then, as a reservist I am a Flying Officer and have to commit 27 days a year to the RAF – 15 days in one go and the rest at weekends. Last year I also took some of my own holiday allowance to go to America to do aircraft security.
“My days at Network Rail vary a lot. I have been a part of commissioning the Sheffield Tram Train project. The satisfaction in delivering it has been great, and my team have bonded in a way I couldn't have expected. I love the railways and have worked on them for 18 years, starting out in signalling.
“On the flip side, as a reservist I am a Flying Officer, Officer in Charge (OC) of Police for the 607 (County Durham) Squadron, looking after more than 20 police officers in a squadron. We are there to support the regular RAF – my police are there should they, or the country, need back up. It's all about training and being at the ready.”
Many with experiences in the Armed Forces share the virtues essential in a safety critical organisation.
Alan said: “They are totally different jobs, but surprisingly there are similarities and each role has really helped the other. You need discipline, teamwork and determination in both jobs.
“As a reservist, I have been able to get some professional qualifications and skills which translate well into my day job. I'm convinced many of those skills have helped me get promotions in my career.
“Being in the RAF is totally different to everyday life and that is invigorating, even though I can't say I come away from reserves training rested. It is so good to be back in uniform, too.”
Alan was promoted to Junior Officer in December 2018, with the support of his Network Rail colleagues.
He said: “It felt amazing to be promoted, I was so proud. On top of that, Karl Budge, my regional director, came to my graduation, which I really appreciated. He's been extremely supportive of me and my reserve career.”