Peterborough’s mainline operator LNER pledges to double women applying for train driver roles by 2025

Peterborough’s East Coast Mainline operator, LNER is pledging double the number of women train drivers in the next four years.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 3:56 pm
LNER drivers (from left) Trudi Kinchella (Newcastle, who has been driving for nearly 28 years), Apprentice Driver Vandana Mungur (Peterborough, training in York) and Driver Mena Sutharsan (London). Photo: LNER/Charlotte Graham. EMN-210503-124023001

This comes after LNER research showed only one per cent of women said they had wanted to be a train driver when they were young compared to 21 per cent who wanted to be famous, and 23 per cent who wanted to be a teacher.

The research showed a clear divide in roles that were ‘stereotypically’ male and female when it came to the aspirations of women when they were younger, with 18 per cent wanting to be a nurse or a vet, compared to two per cent considering a career as a mechanic or less than one per cent as a plumber when they grew up.

It also showed that women were avoiding dreaming of careers that might involve a manual element such as building or farming, instead opting for more glamourised and ‘clean’ jobs such as in the entertainment industry or working in fashion.

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LNER’s People Director Karen Lewis said that more needed to be done to promote careers in rail to women, including train driver roles.

“The rail industry needs to do more to encourage women to consider a career in the sector,” Ms Lewis said.

“Our research found that for women of working age, less than a third had considered a career path as a train driver, with 14 per cent of those considering it a male dominated industry and 27 per cent just not knowing much about it.

“It’s proof that the rail industry needs to do more to show women the fantastic career opportunities it can hold, across an extremely broad range of roles, skills and professions.

Train Driver Becky Brown and her eight year old daughter Maisie helping to launch the initiative for International Women's Day. Maisie wants to follow in her Mum’s footsteps to become a train driver when she is older. Photo: Nigel Roddis/PA Wire EMN-210503-124034001

“We’re pleased to see an increasing number of applications each year from women who are interested in pursuing careers as a train driver, and we’re looking to speak to women who have never considered the industry before and encourage them to learn more.”

The number of women applying to LNER for driver roles has more than doubled in three years, increasing from just seven per cent of 2017 applications to 17 per cent in 2020. LNER is encouraging more Peterborough area women to consider train driver roles in the future, with a goal of 40 per cent of driver applications to be from females by 2025.

Among the ranks of trainee drivers is Vandana Mungur, from Peterborough, who is currently training in York.

She said: “When I started when I was 19 as a customer services assistant, I never would have thought in a million years that I would become a train driver. I have always been given the opportunity to develop myself on the railway into different roles.”

LNER train driver Becky Brown has been driving trains for almost 10 years and has an eight-year old daughter who aspires to be a driver when she grows up.

Becky said: “Driving a train is an interesting job, although I do get surprised looks when people ask me what I do for a living and when people see a woman driving the train as it pulls into the platform.

“I love hearing from my daughter that she too wants to be a driver, as it’s such a unique career path. It allows me to be flexible and spend more time with my family than I might do in a nine-to-five role.”

For more information about driver roles or other careers at LNER, sign up for job alerts here:

Top 15 list of what women wanted to be when they grew up:

1. Teacher 23%

2. Famous singer or actress 21%

3. Nurse 18%

4. Doctor 18%

5. Vet 18%

6. Lawyer 15%

7. Princess 14%

8. Working in fashion 12%

9. Working in an office 8%

10. Writer 7%

11. Shop keeper 6%

12. Pilot 5%

13. Farmer 3%

14. Mechanic 2%

15. Train driver 1%