Greater Anglia encourages women to consider railway careers

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Two of Greater Anglia’s female train depot supervisors are urging women to consider a career working for the railway on this International Women’s Day.

Rynette Crichlow and Blessing Akele have both spent many years at Orient Way depot, between Stratford and Tottenham Hale in North East London, working for the train operator’s cleaning team before moving into operations.

And now they are celebrating after being appointed the first-ever female yard supervisors at the depot.
They oversee the busy set of sidings where trains are shunted around, cleaned, toilets emptied and water replenished, before they go back out again, ready to start another passenger service.

The pair work in shifts in a wider team with six others, ensuring that the railway operates safely and on time, and that the points which allow a train to switch tracks are set correctly – as well as speaking with signallers, Greater Anglia’s train service and maintenance controllers, or colleagues at Network Rail, or dealing with any train faults or issues that may occur.

Rynette, who began working on the railway in 2015, said: “After so many years in Train Presentation cleaning trains, my operations colleagues encouraged me to apply. It was a bit daunting at first, but I thought I’d like to give it a try.

“I applied and was successful. We are not treated any differently – there’s no thinking that ‘we’re women so we can’t do this’. The training is great and you’re really encouraged to reach your potential. It’s just a case of going for it: don’t let anything stop you from following your dreams.”

The pair are proud to be the first women to get into the yard supervisor role at the depot, saying that they’re ‘leading the way’ and that it ‘creates diversity’, encouraging anyone to apply for a job in rail if they are interested.

Blessing said: “Women absolutely should consider working on the railway. The railway has lots of different career options and opportunities.

“In the past, a lot of women felt like the job was male-dominated. Gone are those days, a lot of women work on the railway now – while our role has shift work, there’s a work/life balance there too.

“You don’t need a degree – if you’re open-minded and ready for training then lots of people are ready to help you.”

Image credit: Greater Anglia

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