Great North Rail Project – powered by women

More women in the railway workforce will improve business performance, three Network Rail employees said today as they called to #PressforProgress.

The trio – Jennifer Gilleece Jones, Debbie Hargreaves and Louise O’Brien, all helping deliver the Great North Rail Project* – spoke out as they celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8).

International Women’s Day is a global day highlighting the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also calls for accelerating gender parity.

Jennifer Gilleece Jones, lead telecoms engineer at Network Rail, said: “Women are playing a vital role in the multi-billion pound Great North Rail Project that’s transforming train travel for customers in the North of England.

“I’ve played my part in introducing modern telecoms equipment on our railways. This work will help make the Stalybridge-Manchester-Bolton-Preston railways, all of which are currently being upgraded, to become faster and more reliable in the future.”

Debbie Hargreaves, programme commercial manager, said: “I manage a team of commercial specialists who manage a multi-million pound portfolio of upgrade work. This involves managing multiple contractors and internal interfaces who deliver the work on the ground.”

Louise O’Brien, commercial apprentice at Network Rail, said: “I was inspired to join this industry because of the huge opportunities available in the rail sector and the variety of projects you can work on.

“To change the status quo, I would engage early with young women to clear up the idea that working in rail is only for men and encourage them to consider a career in this vital industry.”

Research carried out by Network Rail has shown that diverse teams are more productive and collaborative, and result in more engaged and motivated teams with lower sickness rates.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for the Network Rail’s London North West route, added: “While much of the Great North Rail Project is being delivered by women, the truth is we need more women working in the rail industry.

“Gender diversity makes business sense. By reflecting the communities we serve we can harness fresh thinking, new ideas and perform better for customers.”

*The Great North Rail Project (GNRP) is a multi-billion-pound rail industry team effort to transform train travel for customers across the North. GNRP includes Northern, TransPennine Express, Rail North, Transport for the North, Network Rail, Department for Transport, Cabinet Office’s Northern Powerhouse department and Rail Delivery Group.