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06 Mar 2020

Britain’s first ‘all female operated’ train service runs today

Britain’s first ‘all female operated’ train service runs today: IWD

  • Network Rail and Southeastern launch landmark day for women in UK rail
  • All female train crew and signallers team up in commuter first
  • Network Rail to increase female workforce by 50% by 2024
  • Southeastern reveals one in five staff are women following pledge to increase diversity

LONDON March 6:  Network Rail and Southeastern join forces today to launch the first ever passenger service run entirely by women – on a banner day for the rail industry.

Marking International Women’s Day, a rush hour Southeastern service will leave London for Kent staffed by a female driver and conductor, while female Network Rail signallers staff the route.

It marks the first time that a commuter service is operated exclusively by female rail staff from start to finish – from the depot to destination. In all, some 15 women will take part.

And the service will form one of three Female Trains today (March 6) as the rail industry seeks to attract more female recruits into a traditionally ‘male’ industry.

Southeastern’s driver, Monika Kurek, will run the 7.42 out of London Victoria to Faversham.

Separately, GWR will run a female train from London Paddington to Bristol, while LNER will run a ‘Flying Scotswoman’ from Edinburgh to Kings Cross.

The unprecedented push comes as Network Rail commits to increasing the number of women in the workforce by 50 per cent by 2024 – equivalent to almost 4,000 new female staff.

Separately Southeastern today reveals that 20 per cent of its workforce are now women following a concerted campaign to raise the profile of the industry – leaving the group on track to hit its target of 21 per cent by 2021.

The rail industry was dominated by men right up to the late 1970s, when Karen Harrison became British Rail’s first female driver.

David Statham, Southeastern managing director, said: “We’re honoured to be playing our part in today’s ‘Female Train’. We have made considerable progress in attracting more women into the industry and we’re proud that 20% of Southeastern’s employees are female.

“The fact today’s ‘Female Train’ is one of the first shows how much more the rail industry needs to do to and we will continue working with partners like Network Rail to achieve this.”

Four Southeastern staff will be involved in today’s train, including driver Monika Kurek and conductor Rebecca Greenstreet. In the unique partnership, 12 female members of Network Rail staff will guide the train on its way out of the capital to Kent.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “This is a brilliant celebration of women in rail. I hope it demonstrates to other women and girls that a rewarding role in our industry is a real prospect. We have an abundance of diverse and interesting jobs available and the users of the railway deserve the best of our talents. That must mean a much more diverse workforce.”

Loraine Martins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Network Rail added: “This is about ensuring our organisation is as diverse as the communities we serve and valuing the contributions that everyone can make to our business. We will continue to work tirelessly to increase the proportion of women at Network Rail at all levels in our business, as well as developing the phenomenal talent that we already have.”

Contact information

Emma Owen

Notes to editors

For further information pls contact:

Network Rail

Lisa Russell/Lucy Jones

Senior Media Relations Manager

020 3356 8700


Emma Owen, Southeastern Press Office

0330 095 9091


Today’s milestone comes two months after Network Rail and Southeastern partnered on an all-female special service from London to Gillingham.

Students and a cross-section of employees – from apprentices to drivers and engineers – were invited onto the train, which was closed to the paying public.

A video film of the January service run by Network Rail and Southeastern for employees and school children can be found at 

Women involved in today’s ‘female train’:

Southeastern Driver, Monika Kurek, Conductor, Rebecca Greenstreet, Dispatcher at Victoria Leanne Gibbs, Dispatcher at Bromley Jan Webb, Dispatcher at Faversham, Sian Wickenden.

Network Rail staff at Victoria Signal Box: Louise Crowe, Beth Simpson, Laura Warren, Becki White, Becky Kempar, Elison Banan, Jess Connally. East Kent Signal Centre: Sam Walford, Roxy Trent and Geraldine Hanson.

Network Rail

  • Women currently make up 18.4% of the organisation at Network Rail.
  • In the last year, the group doubled the number of female apprentices from 62 to 105
  • Between March 2018 and March 2019 the proportion of women in the Network Rail business from 16.6 to 17.4 per cent
  • Female representation in management grew at a faster rate this year compared to those in technical and clerical roles
  • Our Women in Leadership programme supports female colleagues in moving up the ladder into senior roles within the industry
  • Network Rail has introduced a flexible working policy, which has helped overcome a significant barrier for many women
  • Inspire, our employee network for gender equality, helps women in Network Rail to fulfil their full potential


  • Women currently make up 19.9% of Southeastern’s staff – nearly 900 females out of a workforce of 4,470 employees
  • 31 per cent of overall new recruits in 2019 were female.
  • 25 per cent of all driver applications were from women in 2018/2019– up from 8.5 per cent in 2016-2017
  • Introduction of policies on Gender Identity, Menopause and Domestic Abuse guidance
  • Working closely with Women in Rail
  • A year into the female colleague network group WIRE



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