"I thought only men drive trains."
Trainee driver, Chloe McKinlay, hopes her experience will encourage women to pursue a similar career path.
8 March 2021
Like most kids I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school. It’s not uncommon to follow in your parents’ footsteps but in my Dad’s case, I never gave train driving a moment’s thought. I thought only men drive trains.
What I do recall however is how proud he was to say he drove trains for a living. And I had no hesitation in telling my friends that’s what he did. Carrying upwards of 500 to 600 passengers at speeds of 125mph is one big responsibility. But you knew he loved his job, and to this day, 20 years on he still does.
It was only when I started out on the Railway Apprenticeship that I started to think seriously about the job I wanted to do. As part of the scheme, you are introduced to lots of areas of the business, and I was fortunate to spend some time with the Driver Management Team.
It was well documented that Avanti West Coast wanted to encourage more females to become drivers. So I thought ‘why not me’?
Whether you are a man or a woman, it shouldn’t matter and the company as well as my colleagues were great in the support and the encouragement they gave me along the way.
I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been tough. There’s a lot to learn but its good being able to bounce off my Dad. My mum is used to it now when we start “talking trains”. But I know she’s incredibly proud of both of us.
"It was well documented that Avanti West Coast wanted to encourage more females to become drivers. So I thought ‘why not me’?"
There’s still some way to go before I’ll be out there driving trains on my own. It takes upwards of two years. But I’ve had the opportunity, under supervision, to bring a train off the depot into Liverpool Lime Street. The line speed may only be 30 miles per hour, but it felt like all the hours in the classroom had paid off. And to see my dad on the platform, capturing the moment, made it super special.
What I would also say is that at no stage in my training have I been conscious I’m a woman in what traditionally is seen as a man’s job.
So on International Women’s Day, I’d encourage all women to have confidence in their own abilities and not to be afraid to challenge stereotypes. You can be whatever you want to be.
Chloe is pictured with her dad, Kevin