2016

Free rail travel gives fundraising boost to Royal British Legion Poppy Day volunteers

As the nation prepares for the period of Remembrance, the railway is continuing its support for Britain’s armed forces through the free rail travel scheme for Poppy Day volunteers.

Train operators, through the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), have worked with the Royal British Legion (RBL) to ensure thousands of volunteer collectors, including veterans from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force benefit from free rail travel. This scheme is key to the success of the country’s largest street fundraising event, enabling collectors to get to the right locations in cities across Britain.

Free travel will be granted for Poppy Day collectors on the following days:

  • Birmingham: 2 November
  • Bristol: 3 November
  • Edinburgh: 3 November
  • London: 3 November
  • Plymouth: 3 November
  • Belfast: 4 November
  • Cardiff: 5 November
  • Leeds: 9 November
  • Manchester: 10 November
  • Newcastle: 10 November

Coinciding with Birmingham’s City Poppy Day, the RDG’s exhibition on the role of the railway during World War I lands in Birmingham New Street station from 1 November. Produced by the RDG, which brings together train operators and Network Rail, the free exhibition showcases original and archival material including photographs and war memorabilia. It will be on display at Birmingham New Street until 8 January 2017.

Visitors to the exhibition will discover:

  • How Britain’s senior railwaymen revolutionised military operations by building new rail lines on the home and Western Fronts: by 1917, over 2,000 miles of new rail track had been laid out on the Western Front. This helped ensure ammunition and troops’ supplies reached the frontline. Prior to this, military strategists depended on badly maintained roads, resulting in shortages of vital equipment.
  • How approximately 1,000 railwaymen were killed at the Somme. The exhibition features the story of two of them – Reginald and Gerald Wilkinson, brothers from Yorkshire who had worked for the North Eastern Railway. Both were killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme.

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“As the nation commemorates the lives of those who have fought for their country, the rail industry is proud to support fundraising efforts to ensure ex-servicemen and women receive the support they need.

“The railway has always played an important role in the life of the nation and continues to do so.  We hope visitors to the exhibition will come away inspired by the story of the railway during World War I and remember the bravery of the many railway workers who fought on the frontline and worked on the home front.”

Claire Rowcliffe, Director of Fundraising at the Royal British Legion said: “The Poppy Appeal 2016 is encouraging the public to recognise the service and sacrifices made across all generations of the British Armed Forces.

“Service can come in many forms from being parted from family and loved ones for long periods of time, to physical and mental injury, and sadly making the ultimate sacrifice. The Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as it has ever been supporting today’s generation of Service personnel, veterans, and their families whether living with an injury or illness, coping with bereavement or finding employment.

“We’re encouraging people to dig deep for this year’s Poppy Appeal to help us raise £43 million. The Legion’s work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support – so please wear your poppy with pride, knowing that you are helping the Armed Forces community to live on.”

ends

Notes to editors

The rail industry support for City Poppy Day volunteer travel extends to the following events:

  • Birmingham: 2 November
  • Bristol: 3 November
  • Edinburgh: 3 November
  • London: 3 November
  • Plymouth: 3 November
  • Belfast: 4 November
  • Cardiff: 5 November
  • Leeds: 9 November
  • Manchester: 10 November
  • Newcastle: 10 November

Free travel will be given to Poppy Day collectors who will be required to wear military uniform or have individually numbered Poppy Day or military identification. Those wearing military uniform or carrying a military identification card will continue to qualify for free City Poppy Day travel.

Free travel has been arranged to cover the day before and the day after City Poppy Day to ensure collectors are able to fully participate in the 12-hour event.

The World War I railway exhibition is produced by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which brings together train operators and Network Rail.

Exhibition photographs have been supplied by the National Railway Museum. All relevant historical images accompanying this press release should be credited to the National Railway Museum.

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