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GTR which operates Great Northern service to King's Lynn, encourages more women to apply to become train drivers




The rail operator which runs the service between Lynn and London has doubled the number of female driver applicants in the past year.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK's biggest rail operator, operates Great Northern, which serves Lynn, as well as Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services.

Through a series of dedicated recruitment and marketing campaigns, GTR has successfully managed to double the number of female train driver applicants from 413 in 2019, to 825 in 2020, which it says is a remarkable feat for an industry usually seen as dark, dusty and better suited to men.

Zoey Hudson, head of talent, diversity and inclusion for GTR (42810373)
Zoey Hudson, head of talent, diversity and inclusion for GTR (42810373)

GTR believe that a diverse talent pool makes a happy, motivated and successful workforce, as well as giving businesses the best opportunity to recruit the most skilled and capable people for the role; not based on gender, but on ability. And whilst historically the rail industry has struggled to attract female talent, the tide may be turning.

Speaking of the company’s progress, Zoey Hudson, head of talent, diversity and inclusion at GTR said: “We’re very aware at GTR that to get the best from our staff and be best able to serve our passengers, a diverse and highly skilled workforce is absolutely vital. For this reason, we’ve invested heavily in a recruitment campaign packed full of programmes and initiatives, such as working with Mumsnet.

"Our campaigns are aimed at debunking the stereotypes associated with careers in the rail industry and humanising our brands while demonstrating the huge versatility of roles available. All with the intention of attracting a more diverse workforce to the industry.

Lisa Gibbs, a driver for GTR's Southern service (42810391)
Lisa Gibbs, a driver for GTR's Southern service (42810391)

“We’re truly delighted to have been able to double the number of female train driver applicants in a single year, and we look forward to continuing to be the driving force behind the rail industry’s mission to recruit more women and have a more diverse pool of talent.”

GTR has once again committed to doubling the number of female train driver applicants, this time by 2021. Further commitments include improving diversity in teams across its entire talent pool, with the company setting itself the target of having a 50/50 gender split on all training programmes by the end of 2021.

To ensure this ethos is embraced across GTR, the company also introduced Unconscious Bias training, designed specifically to help make the organisation a more diverse and inclusive place to work.

Beau Hawkins, 26, joined the railway seven and a half years ago and has recently qualified as a driver for Great Northern. She said: "I left school as soon as I could, which was just after finishing my GCSEs. After a couple of office and retail jobs, I started my railway career in 2013 when I was 19 years old. Over six or so years, I worked in various roles and covered pretty much every station between Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

“It was a slightly quieter day when I saw the job advert for a trainee driver. I applied on a whim and things progressed from there! The first step of training is learning all the driving rules, which I would say is the hardest bit. There’s a huge rule book and you have to learn it off by heart for the tests. It covers just about any situation you could be faced with on the railway and the rules you need to follow – it’s really important and takes around three months to complete.

“After the rules, things get a bit more practical and you learn how the trains operate in addition to learning different routes across the network. I’ve been driving solo since December and I absolutely love it." “For females young or old that are reading this, I would highly recommend a career as a train driver. You can apply when you’re 20, but you can’t qualify until you reach 21. For those leaving school or college – consider joining the railway family. It’s a great place to be."



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