Northern Rail is stepping up its driver recruitment and training programme by attracting more women to the job.
Over the past year the number of female applicants has risen by 300%. Speaking at Infrarail earlier this year Theresa Villiers, erstwhile transport minister, urged the industry to step up the recruitment of women.
Northern Rail’s initiative is proving successful. Trainee drivers can expect to earn £17K to start with rising to £40K when fully trained. Says Tracie Wing (pictured), a driver based at Blackpool North, ‘I love this job for many reasons. I get to see plenty of daylight during winter, when most of my friends are stuck behind a desk. At times it can feel like I am my own boss as I am working my shift, driving my train and in complete control.
‘The pay is excellent and I get to work varied hours allowing me to see more of my family than I would in a traditional 9 to 5 role. The banter with the team is something I really enjoy and would encourage any woman to consider doing this.’ Tracie emphasised, ‘We are just as capable as the guys.’
For train driver roles, Northern has traditionally had an average female applicant figure of 5%. In the last twelve months this figure has increased to 17%. Says Adrian Thompson, HR Director, ‘We are delighted to see more women applying to become train drivers. The role is certainly a challenging one, requiring great concentration to learn all the routes and mechanical aspects of the different types of train we use, and is as well suited to women as it is to men.’
Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s General Secretary, agrees, ‘Northern has shown a commitment to changing the traditional perception of the rail industry as an employer. The company has made it a priority to recruit more women and ethnic minorities to roles within the company. Whilst there is still some way to go until we have railway depots that reflect the communities in which they are based, ASLEF applauds the efforts that Northern has made.’