The Railway Industry's Hidden Heroes

In times of crisis, the rail sector is the backbone of the economy and the society at large. The social relevance of reliable mobility has become clearer than ever. Especially by rail, passengers, important raw materials, food and medical products are reliably transported with few staff. Production sites of the railway industry in Germany ran and run tirelessly - under strict health precautions - ensuring safe train traffic, stable maintenance and reliable spare parts production.

But who are the everyday heroes who ensure smooth rail traffic through the pandemic? We put a spotlight on the hidden heroes of the rail industry - Behind the scenes of a systemically relevant industry.

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Sascha Borchertmeyer, Qualified overhead contact line fitter at Rail Power Systems GmbH

There are more than 700 kilometres between Sascha Borchertmeyer's place of residence and his place of work. The 39-year-old lives with his family in Emsland. But he pursues his profession as a catenary fitter for Rail Power Systems in Bavaria. His colleagues and him are employed on various construction sites in Munich and the surrounding area. Among other things, he is responsible for repairs to and construction of new overhead lines, the construction of new masts and grounding work.

"I really enjoy the job," he says. He likes that his work is so multifaceted and the tasks vary depending on the construction site. He also appreciates the good atmosphere in his team. "We have a strong solidarity in our group," he says. During his work, he lives in a caravan at a campsite near Munich. He shares the second apartment on wheels with his brother, who is part of the same team. In their career choices, the two men took after their father who was a catenary fitter himself.

Sascha Borchertmeyer usually works two weeks at a time and then spends a week at home. He lives with his fiancée, two children and the family dog in Haren (Ems). The couple is expecting another child. It is not always easy to reconcile private life with his working hours, he admits. Some friendships did not survive the fact that he was often away on the weekends. After all, this showed who the really close friends were.

During the Corona crisis, he severely restricted contact with family and friends. He had to forgo a visit to the regular pub - watching football in the stadium will probably not be possible for a long time. On the other hand, his professional life continues as normal as possible - for good reason: "If the trains don’t run, nothing runs," says Sascha Borchertmeyer. In his team, everyone pays attention to social distance and refrain from shaking hands. From their employer, he and his colleagues received proof of the systemic relevance of their work so that they could continue to travel to their construction sites.

For someone who commutes as far as Sascha Borchertmeyer, the Corona-related restrictions had a not entirely undesirable side effect: the highways were free. So he gets home to Emsland faster after the work is done.

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