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Thursday, May 23, 2024

From Sonar to Signals: How Helen’s career changed track

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From tracking enemy submarines to tracking LNER trains, former Royal Navy Petty Officer Helen Firth is finding there are some surprising similarities between working on an anti-submarine frigate and working in the Rail Operations Centre in York. 

Helen, who has recently joined the LNER Service Delivery Team, spent 13 years sailing the world preventing conflict, regularly sailing through the Suez Canal, and docking near to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. 

Speaking about her time in the Navy, Helen said: “It was the best of times. I’ve visited some wonderful places like Stockholm, Riga and Gdansk and spent 18 months working alongside the US Navy at Virginia Beach, which was a fantastic experience.” 

“My specialism was tracking enemy submarines and keeping tabs on our own submarines. Like whales, every vessel makes a unique sound, and I was trained to detect those sounds and identify who was in the area. It was a fascinating job.” 

When the time came to leave the Navy, Helen knew she excelled in fast-paced operational environments and wanted to be able to work as part of a team. One of her former colleagues had joined the railway as a Signaller, which sparked her interest in the industry. Former sailor, Helen, said: “I spotted that LNER were looking to recruit a Customer Information Controller to work in the Rail Operations Centre. The role seemed a great fit for the skills I’d honed out at sea, so I went for it and was successful. 

 “It’s a great place to work. Like tracking subs, to run services safely and on time, we need to know where our trains are at all times. When we experience unplanned events such severe weather or an engineering fault, quick reactions are needed to successfully reroute services and get our customers to where they need to be, and my role includes making sure information is shared quickly and accurately. 

“Joining LNER has been a great move for me, and I’ve already had the opportunity of a new role within our service delivery team.” 

Image credit: LNER

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