London Assembly Transport Chair calls for rail industry to better represent the people it serves at diversity event

12 July 2019


Florence Eshalomi AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, has called for the rail industry to better represent the people it serves. She made the call at the Railway Industry Association and Young Rail Professionals TrailBlazers Reception at the KIA Oval Cricket Ground last night. 

From left to right: David Westcough, Young Rail Professionals National Chair, London Assembly Transport Committee Chair Florence Eshalomi AM & Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, RIA

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. The day included a pre-reception workshop, speeches from Ms Eshalomi, RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan and National Chair of Young Rail Professionals David Westcough, and networking at one of the UK's landmark sporting venues.

Florence Eshalomi, London Assembly Transport Committee Chair, said at the event: “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 underrepresented groups to study STEM subjects, supporting apprentices, training and graduate schemes.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), 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 London Assembly Transport Committee Chair Florence Eshalomi’s inspired call for the rail industry to improve diversity at our TrailBlazers Reception.”

David Westcough, National Chair of Young Rail Professionals (YRP), said: "In order to ensure the vital success of rail, it is vital that we continue to attract high quality young people from diverse backgrounds into the industry, as well as develop the young people already working in rail to their full potential. We’d like to thank the Railway Industry association for raising the awareness of this need at the Trailblazers networking reception, as well as Florence for her call to improve diversity within rail."
Notes to Editors 
  1. The TrailBlazers Reception was preceded by a workshop bringing together organisations in rail looking to increase the uptake of STEM subjects by young people and to improve the diversity of the sector. The workshop saw a number of rail bodies – including businesses, clients and industry groups – each present on what they do in the skills and diversity space and the challenges they face in getting new entrants into the industry.  The aim was to see where organisations could help one another and learn from different initiatives. The campaign will progress over the coming year, with a TrailBlazers Diversity Guide to be published at RIA’s Annual Conference on 7 & 8 November.
  2. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 280+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.
  3. About Young Rail Professionals: Young Rail Professionals (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. YRP brings together people from all aspects of the industry, whether they are involved in engineering, asset management, train operations, strategic planning, maintenance, franchising, regulation, marketing or human relations. YRP is open to any young rail professional.

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