Supporting the Poppy Appeal and armed forces

Supporting the Poppy Appeal and armed forces

Published 29 October 2019 | Average read time
4 min read
Stories Life at Network Rail Stories

Network Rail supports the Royal British Legion‘s Poppy Appeal, which provides lifelong support for the armed forces community – serving men and women, veterans, and their families.

This Poppy Appeal, the railway joined in Operation Poppy, highlighting our armed forces’ unseen contributions and for which celebrities went undercover as volunteers alongside poppy sellers across Britain.

Actors Ross Kemp and television presenter Ben Shepherd took part at London King’s Cross railway station last week to help the Poppy Appeal reach its more than £50m target this season:

Proud to recruit from the armed forces

At Network Rail, we have a long history of supporting the armed forces. For example, we are committed to helping ex-forces personnel reintegrate into successful civilian careers while helping our reservist community.

We reconfirmed our pledge to the armed forces community by re-signing its Armed Forces Covenant on Reservists Day in 2018. We were honoured by the Ministry of Defence with the Employer Recognition Scheme Silver award in 2016 and the Employer Recognition Scheme Gold award in October 2017.

We admire many of the attributes someone from the forces can bring to any role –

  • discipline
  • team work
  • leadership
  • ability to stay calm under pressure and change
  • comfortable in a fast-paced environment
  • decision making with a high level of ambiguity
  • determination
  • flexible in an evolving environment.

All these qualities, which are essential in the military, are highly sought-after within our safety critical environment at Network Rail.

We work closely with the Career Transition Partnership and the Officers Association to ensure everyone making the move is fully supported.

Joining us could be the perfect route into a new successful civilian career, create a profile and sign up to our job alerts to find your perfect second Career in the Rail industry.

What it’s like for personnel to work for Network Rail

Alan (pictured) 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 recently 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.”

Transferable skills

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.”