World Engineering Day

Friday 04th March 2022

To celebrate World Engineering Day, we chatted to some of our Fleet Team to find out how they got a job in the railway and what advice they’d give to others looking to join the industry.

Rachael Blackman Stretton, Head of Fleet Delivery at TransPennine Express. Rachael is smiling towards the camera.

Rachael Blackman Stretton

In a few sentences, tell us what your role entails?

I lead a fantastic team whose jobs are very varied – from the maintenance controllers and technical inspectors who help fix faults on trains in service, to the delivery managers who look after the relationships with partners who maintain our trains for us, and some new support engineers who will work on the depot to further our collaboration with our maintenance partners. Our collective role is to make sure we have enough trains available for service every day and to make sure these trains are clean, safe and reliable.

How did you get into the rail industry?

I started as a station assistant at Liverpool Central station, checking tickets and providing all types of help to customers. I only intended to stay working on the railway for a year before going back to university for further study, but here I am nearly 15 years later! I soon realised that there were lots of opportunities to move into interesting jobs which help keep trains running and that I could build a great career out of it. 

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is identifying where things are going wrong and putting plans in place to improve and prevent the same issues happening again. For our team, this can look like understanding why trains are getting delayed, why they’re taking longer than expected to repair, or how to make more trains available when the timetable changes. I love bringing together people from different teams with different backgrounds and skills to address our challenges.

What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have the help and support of lots of colleagues, leaders and mentors. My proudest moments have been times when I’ve been able to help people in return by teaching them a new skill or giving support and advice. I enjoy passing on my knowledge and experience and knowing that I’ve helped someone in their own career is a big thrill for me. 

What would you say to a young graduate thinking about a career in rail?

The railway offers great variety; from an engineering perspective, there are so many disciplines available to specialise in and you can see the direct result of your work every day. When you see lots of customers using one of your trains, you think to yourself ‘I helped make their journeys happen’. It’s important to point out that there are very few barriers to success if you aren’t from a ‘technical’ background. I’m not a qualified engineer, but there have always been lots of learning and development opportunities available to me, including going back to university whilst working to study railway operations. The complexity of operating a railway also means there are fresh challenges all the time, and no two days are the same.

Nadia Stott, Fleet Technical Manager at TransPennine Express. Nadia is smiling towards the camera taking a selfie

Nadia Stott 

In a few sentences, tell us what your role entails?

My role is Fleet Delivery Manager, and I am responsible for making sure our daily 185 train unit provision meets the agreed terms and conditions in the Train Services Agreement. This includes communicating with Siemens and Eversholt Rail as well as TransPennine Express Maintenance and Incident Control. 

How did you get into the rail industry?

I was working for the NHS when an ex-colleague told me about a job in the TransPennine Express Performance Team. That was 15 years ago! I worked nine years as a Performance Analyst before moving to the Fleet team in June 2016 to start a role in Fleet Commercial. 

What is your favourite part of your job?

No day is the same; I really enjoy the wide variety of the role. I am two years in, and there is still so much to learn, whether it be elements of the Contract or technical engineering terms.  

What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?

Becoming Fleet Delivery Manager. Having spent a number of years working hard and just missing out on opportunities, it spurred me on to keep trying. I was given a secondment opportunity, so I put all my effort and hard work into making sure I could show how capable I was. Determination paid off, and I’ve found a role that suits my skills and personality. 

What advice would you give to other women in rail?

Don’t give up, and don’t underestimate your talent! There are a number of roles across the industry that need you.

Caitlin Gent, Fleet Commercial Engineer at TransPennine Express. Caitlin is wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) closely inspecting a piece of machinery.

Caitlin Gent 

In a few sentences, tell us what your role entails?

My role is rather varied but to summarise, I am responsible for managing and ordering fuel for our trains at our depot locations. In addition, I raise purchase orders for the team and goods receipt our invoices. I also monitor the monthly mileage of each of the fleets and produce periodic fleet reports. Within the next few months, I will also be involved in contract negotiations and lease agreements with ROSCOs. 

How did you get into the rail industry?

I got into the industry via an Engineering Apprenticeship with TransPennine Express, this was recommended to me by a family friend, and I have never looked back since. 

What is your favourite part of your job?

At the moment, my favourite part of my role is the variety of tasks that I am responsible for. It’s nice to have a vital role within the company to ensure there is enough fuel at each of our depots to ensure our trains can go into service each day. 

What would you say is the achievement you’re most proud of so far in your career?

I think the achievement I am most proud of is my personal development over the last five years. Reflecting on where I started as an Apprentice to where I am now as a Fleet Commercial Engineer is really fulfilling. 

What would you say to a young person thinking about a career in rail/engineering?

Engineering is so broad and varied that there are so many opportunities within this field. Have an open mind and explore the different areas if you can. Engineering is forever developing, so allow it to challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone. 

If you’re feeling inspired about a career in the rail industry and want to find out more, head over to our careers page and start your journey! Or find out more about our Apprenticeship scheme here.

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