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London Assembly transport chair calls for greater diversity in rail industry

Pictured left to right: David Westcough, YRP chair, London assembly transport committee chair Florence Eshalomi, and Darren Caplan, RIA chief executive.

The chair of the London assembly transport committee has called for the rail industry to better represent the people it serves, by encouraging more females and other under-represented groups to study STEM subjects and to support apprentices, training and graduate schemes.

Florence Eshalomi made the call at a Railway Industry Association (RIA) and Young Rail Professionals (YRP) trailblazers reception in London. The reception brought together existing rail industry leaders with leaders of the future from a wide range of backgrounds to network, learn from each other and discuss diversity and skills in the sector. 

Eshalomi said: “Rail plays an important part in the daily commute and travel for thousands of Londoners. As London’s population is set to increase to 10.8m by 2041 we need to respond to the challenges across the transport network. There are existing skills shortages and gaps in the rail and wider transport sector. Having the right people with the skills in place to deliver the transport infrastructure is critical.

“We have to invest in the next generation of staff and challenge the perceptions that the rail and transport sector is only for men by encouraging more females and other under-represented groups to study STEM subjects, supporting apprentices, training and graduate schemes.”

Darren Caplan, RIA chief executive, said: “We all know that the rail industry is a great industry to work in. It provides fantastic jobs and great career options, yet the sector still suffers from a lack of diversity: 70% of the rail workforce is male and only 5% of train drivers are female, a third is over 50 and only 27% are from a Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. So I wholeheartedly back today’s call for the rail industry to improve diversity.”

The YRP was founded in 2009 to promote the railway industry as a great place to work and to inspire and develop the next generation of railway talent. The campaign will progress over the coming year, with a TrailBlazers Diversity Guide to be published at the RIA’s annual conference in November.