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Babak Erfani, Network Rail engineer
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Network Rail engineer

By
Danielle Goldstein
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…according to Babak Erfani, 30.

Rail workers don’t get many Christmas breaks

‘This was my fourth year in a row working Christmas and New Year. As it’s quieter it gives us the access we need to do the work without impacting many travellers. I’m sure my mum would love me to come home for Christmas one year, but the family and friends of people who work on the railway understand.’

Leaves are a genuine problem

‘If we get heavy leaf-fall, it creates a Teflon-like layer over the rail, which means it takes longer for trains to brake. But we take as much care as possible to remove leaves from the lines and drivers are trained to deal with the conditions they’re faced with.’

Animals don’t help much, either

‘We get all sorts of animals on the lines. Small ones aren’t such a big issue as they tend to run out of the path of trains, but with horses, cows and things like that we have to stop the train. The most unusual I’ve heard of was an escaped wallaby on the tracks in Yorkshire.’

That big infrastructure project probably won’t mean fewer track closures

‘More passengers are using the railway now than ever before, and projects such as Crossrail are designed to give even more options. So the work that goes into maintaining the railway isn’t going to slow down.’

Closures get announced two to six weeks ahead of time

‘Our research has found that tends to be the best time to remind people. We really try to minimise any inconvenience to passengers. Obviously we are sorry when people are upset by planned closures, but there is always a benefit to the passenger: we don’t do work for the sake of it.’

Now find out the things you only know if you’re a Crossrail engineer.

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