‘I want to achieve something great in life’ - female Peterborough train drivers want to change perceptions

Trainee train drivers
Trainee train drivers

With the influence of women very much in the spotlight, two female Peterborough train drivers have described how they got into the profession.

Both women come from the first Great Northern driver trainee class with a 50:50 gender split.

Kirsty Merrington, a trainee driver for Great Northern, is a 26-year-old mum who joined after working as gateline staff at Hertford.

She said: “Apart from the obvious reason of wanting to drive trains, I really wanted to become a train driver because I want to achieve something great in life.

“I want to be an inspiration to my son; he sees all the homework I have to do and it’s good for him to see that you have to put hard work and effort into something you want.

“Goals aren’t supposed to be easy, and that’s why I worked really hard to get the job. The hard work isn’t over yet. I’ve just passed my final rules assessment which is really exciting. The next chapter is going to be traction which I think will be a challenge for me but I’m ready for it.

“My son also said to me recently his friend said to him, ‘only boys drive trains’. And that is a perception I’m really passionate about changing. I tell everyone that I can that I’m training to be a driver so I can spread awareness that it is achievable whether you’re a woman or not!”

Faye Lartey is a trainee driver for Great Northern. The 25-year-old’s father was also a train driver

She said: “I’ve grown up with an insight into working on the railway - specifically train driving. My dad has worked in the driving grade for 40 years; from driving to instructing to different managerial roles.

“He is currently a simulator and standards manager so I’ve always had an awareness of the job itself and the lifestyle that comes with it; trying to keep two young kids quiet whilst their dad’s on night shift is no mean feat so well done to my mum!

“I always remember my dad asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. What about a train driver? I never even considered it to be a realistic job prospect. I remember saying “no, that’s a man’s job.” There’s so much I would say to my eight-year-old self about that response now.

“We had our final rules assessment last week - the written assessment (which took around six hours) on Thursday and then the reviews took place on Friday.

“It was a lot of hard work and revision pretty much non-stop leading up to it but we all passed. A couple of us on Friday were given our first master key.

“It definitely feels like a milestone and a huge sense of achievement but I’m also very aware that there is still a lot of hard work to come.

“It wasn’t until I was at uni studying for my law degree that I started to really consider becoming a driver. Once I had completed my degree I knew I didn’t want to pursue law any further but I also knew that some of the skills I gained throughout my degree were transferable to the driving role so I decided to work towards this.

“I started on the railway in an admin job followed by a role in revenue at Stevenage where I really settled into railway life. The vacancy was advertised and, fast forward through the seven month recruitment process, I found out that I was successful.

“The training has been challenging and requires a lot of hard work and dedication both in and out of work which means revision every night. I have a really great bunch of people on my course who are all willing to help each other out.

“My dad has been very supportive and it’s been helpful to have someone close by who is really knowledgeable in that particular field. It’s been a real learning experience so far and we’re only a third of the way through training.

“I’m looking forward to moving onto the next stage and the new challenges that it will inevitably bring.”