Sewers come before Santa for Lanes Christmas workers
Santa is not the only one working on Christmas Day.
Drains, as well as chimneys, must be kept clear – so Lanes Group plc teams will be working while others eat drink and become merry.
Across the UK, householders and businesses will be relying Lanes drainage and wastewater engineers unblocking drains to keep festive celebrations and activities on track.
Teams from Lanes Rail Division are also out in force on Christmas Day to support London Underground colleagues complete a major track improvement project.
At Lanes Utilities, Thames Water’s wastewater network services maintenance, personnel will be working in the Customer Solutions Centre (CSC) in Slough, Berkshire, and out in the field, keeping drains and sewers flowing freely.
Among them is wastewater engineer Will Craig, whose shift starts at 11am, so at least he will enjoy Christmas morning with his partner and three children, aged 6, 5, and 2.
He says: “I’ll get to see the children open their presents, which is the main thing. To be honest, I don’t mind working over Christmas.
“It’s good to be able to help customers and make them especially happy by solving their drainage problems. Many times in the past I have saved a Christmas party which was threatened by a blocked drain.”
Will says Lanes Utilities teams always works safely, but have to be particularly cautious on Christmas Day as there are often lots of children running around, with parents who have had more than a little to drink.
Will’s manager is Luke Burns. He is the on-call field manager for the Lanes Utilities Central North region, based at Gerrards Cross, in Buckinghamshire.
Will is on duty 24 hours a day from Christmas Day through to New Year’s Day, so will be virtually teetotal for the whole period.
He says: “I don’t drink very much usually, to be honest. But I need to be ready to go out and support my team of 30 wastewater engineers at any time of day or night.”
He is hoping for a relatively quiet Christmas Day so he can spend some time – laptop and phone at the ready – with his partner, daughter, aged two, and newborn baby girl, aged four months.
But he still expects to go out during the day to help colleagues.
Back in the CSC, the customer contact nerve centre, where Lanes teams work with Thames Water colleagues, to take customer calls, and coordinate responses to their needs, colleagues work hard to stay happy.
Team Manager Mellissa Aitken, pictured above right, worked last Christmas. She says: “The Lanes family spirit kicks in on Christmas Day and we make sure we’re having fun as well as helping customers.”
Planning Manager Faiza Iqbal, pictured above left, is working Christmas Day and says she will miss having a day she traditional spends with friends, eating and drinking.
She adds: “Christmas Day is for letting your hair down. Also, my cat, Buffy, will have to spend the day by herself. But at least I’m saved from having a heavy head.”
Across London at the Lanes Rail Division HQ in Rainham, Essex, preparations are being made to support a major engineering project on London Underground (LU).
For the first time, LU is operating a rail grinding train during the Christmas shutdown starting late on Christmas Eve and ending early on Boxing Day – and Lanes Rail is providing 45 operatives over three 12-hour shifts to support the project.
The work will grind the track along the Heathrow Loop on the Piccadilly, so trains run more smoothly, giving passengers a better travelling experience.
Lanes TfL Project Director Huseyin Ibrahim says: “We will be providing all the safety, fire, cleaning and water supply workers during the project.
“At the same time, we will have a team of eight maintenance staff working across the LU network 24 hours a day over Christmas and the New Year. They are the hidden heroes helping to keep the Underground running.”
The Lanes Rail teams will be overseen by Civils Track Manager Luke Jones. He says: “We work nights, and when we’re not, we’re working weekends. Anti-social hours come naturally to us. Father Christmas does it one day a year. We’re at it for 365 days!”