Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said just 6.5 per cent of drivers in England, Wales and Scotland were women. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)


A campaign to recruit more female, BAME and younger train drivers is being considered after a study revealed “glaring gap” in diversity.

Rail union Aslef has published a report highlighting that only 6.5 per cent of train drivers were women. Just 8 per cent are from an ethnic minority and only 15 per cent are under the age of 35.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, these numbers do not represent the population they serve. In its report titled On Track with Diversity, to be published in parliament on Monday (17), Aslef will call for action to tackle this issue.

“We believe that a train driver is a train driver is a train driver – regardless of gender, sexuality, religion or race – and we’ve been pushing the companies to allow more part-time and flexible working because the lack of such agreements has been a barrier, in the past, to women coming into our industry as many still take on the primary responsibility for childcare,” Whelan was quoted as saying.

The report looked at female, BAME and younger workers across Aslef’s membership.

Diversity varied significantly across the train operating companies, it showed.

At Virgin Trains Westcoast, 3.6 per cent of Aslef’s driver members are female, 3.3 per cent are BAME and 5.3 per cent are under 35. The  London Underground’s representation was 13.8 per cent, 25.1 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively.

At Metrolink and Eurotunnel, Aslef had no female, BAME or younger members.

To tackle this issue, the report states that operators should not use gendered pronouns in job advertisements. It also wants senior management to act as champions for under-represented groups.

Whelan said there was “light at the end of the tunnel” if recommendations in the report were implemented, “because we know the rail industry needs to do more to improve its recruitment policies and we will work closely with the companies to ensure this happens.”

The Department for Transport said it was committed to delivering a more diverse and representative workforce in the transport sector. “We have written to the industry to ensure fair maternity leave and flexible working is in place for those returning from maternity and paternity. We have also asked them to see what more can be done to introduce family-friendly policies,” the Department of Transport said in a statement cited by the Guardian.