Network Rail today warned workmen intending to take part in this weekend’s engineering works that they should expect disruption thanks to what they’re terming ‘unavoidable travel plans’.
‘We recognise that this will be a huge disappointment to many of our engineers and ancillary staff, who rightly expect us to deliver world-class stoppages every weekend without fail,’ said Network Rail spokesman Tom Gatfield. ‘But we’ve reached a point where we have to reluctantly put the engineering works on hold.’
Insisting that the measures are temporary, Gatfield explained the reason behind the move. ‘What happens is that groups of people, or passengers as we call them, cluster around railway stations up and down the country. Over time, these groups grow in number and become a risk to each other and, more importantly, to the network infrastructure. So we are forced into a position where we have to deploy trains so that we can move these passengers from one station to another.’
Network Rail refused to say how long the disruption might last. ‘Moving passengers by train is something that just can’t be rushed. Passengers have to be squeezed on board, doors have to close then suddenly open again, various health and safety and security and lost luggage and fare avoidance and buffet location and station announcements have to be made, and only then can we risk slowly inching the train along the tracks.’
The disruption is sure to come as a bitter blow to the many ordinary hi-vis wearing, hammer-wielding and roll-up smoking railway engineers, many of whom simply want to spend quality time away from their families. ‘Typical,’ said one. ‘I had big plans for this weekend, involving slowly walking along the track and occasionally giving the rail a bit of a tap. But now there’s a risk I’ll have to stay at home. If travelling is so important to them, can’t these passengers do it at night?’