UK rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has seen a 50% jump in the number of women starting on its apprenticeship schemes, with women making up around a third of starters. 

The company, part of Go-Ahead and Keolis’ Govia, revealed that 60 of its 176 new starters in 2023 were women, continuing the positive growth shown in 2022 which saw the highest number of female applicants for train driver roles in five years. 

Wioletta Kuszyk, one of GTR’s apprentices, said: “After making a big decision to change career paths from a chef to train driver post-Covid-19, the GTR apprenticeship was a great introduction to the industry. 

“It gave me all the skills and support I needed in those early years of my new career and a thorough understanding of what my short and long-term opportunities were.” 

GTR’s celebration of the increase in women starting its apprenticeships, marked ahead of the UK’s National Apprenticeship Week, shows a continuing push for increased diversity and opportunities for women in the historically male-dominated rail industry 

Also in the UK, rail operator LNER and network manager Network Rail have celebrated their ‘Never Mind the Gap’ initiative, which provides training and placements for women who are coming back to work after a career break of redundancy. 

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A joint partnership with Women in Rail, this year the initiative supported women from York and Doncaster in England to experience sectors of the industry such as engineering, communications, station teams, and onboard staff. 

Sarah Birtles, head of customer and station transformation for Network Rail and chair of Women in Rail Yorkshire, said: “This initiative is so important in enabling women to experience the variety of career opportunities available to them in the rail industry. 

“A career in rail is for everyone and it is great to be able to work alongside LNER on this project, to empower women and equip them with new skills as they take a fresh step in their careers.” 

The issue is also being pushed around the world, with the Australasian Railway Association establishing a three-year Women in Rail Strategy in 2023 to improve gender diversity in the industry.