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International Women's Day visit to Alstom Depot

Held on International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March) 20 pupils between the ages of 11 and 13 from Co-op Academy Stoke-on-Trent travelled from the Staffordshire city with Avanti West Coast to Stockport, where they went to visit Alstom’s Longsight depot. Known as the Manchester Traincare Centre, the facility can accommodate almost 300 rail vehicles at one time – making it one of the biggest of its kind in the UK – and employs almost 300 members of staff.

The visit was part of Alstom’s wider national initiative for International Women’s Day – InspiHer – which saw 25 of its UK sites open its doors to female students in Years 7 and 8, with the aim of inspiring them to pursue a career in rail or science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

During the visit pupils were able to design and build a model using a 3D scanner, operate a Lean-Lift to find hidden items and experience maintenance work taking place on a Pendolino – the same type of train the pupils had travelled between Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport on. Both Avanti West Coast services the pupils travelled on as part of the event were driven by women, furthering showcasing the potential career options available to females in rail.

“It has been truly inspiring to spend the day with students from Co-op Academy Stoke-on-Trent, who impressed us with their curiosity, enthusiasm and potential. Witnessing their engagement with various aspects of the rail industry and seeing their passion for learning about STEM careers reaffirms the importance of initiatives like InspiHer in nurturing the next generation of diverse talent,” said Linda Dennis, Information Systems and Technology Business Partner UK and Ireland at Alstom during the International Women’s Day event.

She added: “We know that there’s still work to be done in breaking down the stereotype that the rail sector is predominantly a career for men. However, my experience has shown me that talent knows no gender and the contributions of women in the rail sector are invaluable. Together, we must continue to challenge outdated perceptions and create a more inclusive industry for all.”

Co-op Academy pupils enjoyed learning about female rail pioneers on the train journey itself and also spent time shadowing two female Avanti West Coast Station Managers, who oversee Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport railway stations respectively.

“Days like today are all about inspiring the next generation of railway workers, whilst at the same time continuing to challenge the stereotype around gender bias. I’m incredibly proud to say I work for the railway. As an industry we’ve made great strides in recent years. But there’s more that needs to be done to encourage more women to actively pursue a career on the railway,” said Laura Warwick, Station Manager for Avanti West Coast at Stoke-on-Trent.

She added: “Hopefully today will have given these school pupils a bit of feel for just some of the roles and opportunities open to them.”