First class ambition to become UK’s youngest female train driver
A new female train driver for First TransPennine Express (FTPE) - also thought to be one of the youngest in the UK - has become an overnight poster girl for the brand after seeing off fierce competition for a training spot.
Rachie-Ann Owen will begin her training with FTPE in February, beginning a 10 month training programme with 20+ other drivers.
After calling into a regional radio show, Rachie has attracted national media coverage for her passion for the role, normally associated with older male drivers.
Her recruitment forms part of a wider initiative as the train company invest £60m in 10 new trains operating between Manchester and Scotland, providing over 80% additional capacity on the route.
Rachie-Ann first worked in the rail industry at just 16 when she carried out work experience in the ticket office at Bangor Station, before becoming the first female train guard on the 117 year old Snowdon Mountain .
Excited to begin her new role, she adds, "I've loved trains ever since I was 10 or 11 and always knew I wanted to work in the rail industry. When I worked on the Snowdon Mountain I was dedicated to one of the Garratt engines called 87, everyone knew me as Rachie7 so in the end I changed my name from Rachel to Rachie to suit and even got a tattoo of the engine name on my hand."
"To work as a train driver for First TransPennine Express is a dream come true for me. The Class 185's are beautiful looking trains, I'm excited to start my training. To be one of the youngest female train drivers is amazing and my family and friends are all really proud."
"Since working on the Welsh High Railway, four women have now joined the team as rail guards. I'd like to think that this role proves you can do anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it."
"My hopes for the future are to become an excellent driver for First TransPennine Express and work with them for many years to come, maybe working my way up to a role such as Driver Manager one day."
Chris Nutton, FTPE Programme Director said "I am absolutely delighted that Rachie-Ann is joining us in February. She is not only fulfilling a personal ambition but she is going to be part of a fantastic project that will see more capacity and better journey choices for customers across our network.
"Rachie-Ann is a young talented lady who has excelled in our recruitment process. Her enthusiasm to succeed is infectious and I know she will deliver great service every day. She will be a real asset and I look forward to travelling with her when she completes her training.
"Our £60m investment in new trains will also create around 200 new jobs and provide a 30 per cent uplift in capacity across the north of England."
Rachie-Ann will be trained to drive the Class 185 and Class 170 trains, joining the FTPE team to serve 25m passengers a year. Based at Manchester Piccadilly, she will be trained on all FTPE routes, visiting key destinations including Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Cumbria into Scotland.