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During the European Railway Award ceremony held this week in Brussels, Ukrainian Railways (UZ) was recognized with the "Rail Champion" prize for the company's "remarkable resilience and continuation of transport services in times of war and unimaginable hardship."
The Rail Champion title is an honorary recognition jointly bestowed by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies and the Association of the European Rail Supply Industry, which are the railway award’s organizers and hosts.
"Recent tragic events in Ukraine and the remarkable efforts to keep transport lines open made Ukrainian Railways an obvious recipient for this year’s prize," the award officials said in a press release.
Since February 2022, when Russia launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine, UZ has provided a lifeline to millions of displaced citizens and kept vital aid and supplies flowing through the country, they said.
"Working under the most difficult and dangerous conditions, UZ employees' heroic efforts are ensuring the continuation of transport services according to a regular railway schedule," they said. "These efforts demonstrate the enormous resilience and crisis fitness of the railway system and the importance of strong railway companies."
UZ Board Member Oleksandr Pertsovskyi accepted the award on behalf of the railway and its employees.
"It's an honor for the Ukrainian railway workers who keep doing their job on a daily basis despite constant shellings and infrastructure damage," he said in his acceptance speech. "We have managed to evacuate more than 4 million people by rail, 1 million of them being children."
Pertsovskyi thanked all railway workers in Europe who ensured the refugees’ route to safety, and Europeans for hosting them.
More than 327 UZ workers have lost their lives as they’ve continued to provide rail service during the war, he said.
"My second point is that war is no excuse for us to not keep enhancing our service quality and find new Euro integration routes. More railway connections with Poland and Romania in the recent months are vivid proof of that, and we are striving for more," Pertsovskyi said.
The Global Ukraine Rail Task Force, co-chaired by former U.S. Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris, has helped coordinate some of the humanitarian efforts to help UZ and Ukraine. To learn more about the task force’s work, read this article in Progressive Railroading's online subscription service, RailPrime.