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Rail organisation launches campaign to increase the number of female train drivers

Helen Dickerson

With less than 5% of Greater Anglia train drivers currently female, the organisation is accelerating efforts to recruit more women into its workforce and is targeting of 40% of applicants to be women by 2021.

It comes as the company revealed that it had appointed its first ever female yard controller at a control depot in Norwich which employs more than 100 men.

Helen Dickerson is responsible for train movements in the yard, and making sure trains are refuelled, kept up to date with maintenance exams, and ready for service each morning. Having worked at the depot for the last nine years as a production control assistant, she felt she was ready for a change and applied for the job as a yard controller earlier this year.

Greater Anglia state that 22% of its employees are women and was "something the company is working to address along with the rest of the industry".

Recruitment open days, mentoring and development programmes for female employees, and a change in recruitment campaigns to reflect diversity are just some of the ways Greater Anglia are attempting to get more women on board.

Recently, more than 60 women attended an event at the company’s Stratford office, where they were split into three groups. They attended sessions on training, where they learned the intricacies of being a driver and were shown inside the driver simulators.

Commenting on her new role and efforts to inspire more women into the rail industry, Dickerson said: “There are more than 100 men at Crown Point and I am the only woman working in a front line engineering role. I trained as a shunter, where I direct movements around the yard and can attach carriages to trains. I'm the person who gets your train out to you each morning. The railway is a brilliant place to work - not many people would stay at the same job since they left school."

Her appointment has fell in line at a time when Greater Anglia is investing over £40m in a project which will see the depot transformed to accommodate some of the company's brand new trains, which are longer than existing trains.

The depot is getting better facilities to house and maintain the 58 new trains being built by Stadler, as well as a new train washing facility, improving servicing equipment and the ability to store and dispense more fuel.