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Shamit Gaiger speaking to young female apprentices

West Coast Partnership Development co-hosts first ever all-female apprentice event

The event was focussed around equipping the next generation of women in rail with skills for life.

  • Female apprentice event held by West Coast Partnership Development alongside High Speed Rail Group.
  • Event was focussed around equipping the next generation of women in rail with skills for life.
  • WCPD MD Shamit Gaiger spoke at the event, sharing her experiences on diversity and skill development.

West Coast Partnership Development (WCPD) joined with the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) to host their first ever all-female apprentice event aiming to equip the next generation of women with skills for life.

The event, which took place at Alstom’s Crewe factory, was held to coincide with this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

Shamit Gaiger, WCPD’s Managing Director, spoke at the event, alongside Susan Evans, Board Director, High Speed Rail Group; Anne-Marie Rotter, HS2 Rolling Stock Project Director at Alstom; Natalie Penrose, Head of Legacy at HS2 Ltd on the challenges women face in the rail industry, and how women in the industry can support each other’s development.

It was formed based on a suggestion by women in the High Speed Rail Apprentice Network as a way of bringing together women from across the rail and construction industry to share expertise and personal experiences. The Network is run by the HSRG as a way of connecting apprentices and graduates from across HS2 and its contractors, and the wider HSR industry – and provide members of the network with opportunities for networking, meeting other apprentices and sharing experiences and best practice.

In addition to several keynote speeches, the event featured an interactive mentoring session, where senior women in the industry shared their insights and knowledge of how they have progressed into senior leadership roles, as a way of helping the apprentices to develop leadership skills.

Women remain a minority in the rail industry, representing just 23% of the workforce last year according to the Office of Road and Rail. HS2 Ltd has implemented processes like blind sifting CVs to reduce hiring bias, and has made strong progress, increasing female representation to 39% of internal staff and 30% of supply chain staff. Yet clearly more progress is needed across the industry, both in encouraging new women into the industry and supporting them once they join.

Commenting on the event, Shamit Gaiger, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development, said: “Events like this are a great opportunity to bring together women from across all levels in the industry to champion each other’s successes in a positive way. Diversity is an important passion of mine and it was fantastic to be part of an event that recognises all the contributions made by female apprentices. They are the next generation of talent and leaders, and it is our role, as senior women in rail, to continually inspire them and support their development.”

Susan Evans, Board Director, High Speed Rail Group said: “I was delighted to see such a strong turnout from women at all levels in their career at the High Speed Rail Group’s first ever dedicated event to female apprentices this week. Whilst there is still work to be done to diversify the industry, this week our members came together to demonstrate the importance of working together and supporting the younger generation who will one day do the same.

Anne-Marie Rotter, HS2 Rolling Stock Project Director at Alstom said: “Alstom Crewe had the honour to host this landmark event for HSRG ‘Women as Leaders: Equipping the next generation with skills for life’. The event centred around amazing leaders from across the industry sharing their experience and offering advice to talented female apprentices, with lots of fruitful exchanges preparing the next generation of railway leaders.”

After attending the event, Sarah Cuttler, Alstom’s Level 3 Rail Engineering Apprentice commented: “This event at Alstom Crewe has been really exciting and inspirational to attend.  Hearing very senior women’s stories and how they got to where they are now really motivates me to pursue my career to its full potential.  The mindset it has provided me and tips I have been given today, I will take with me throughout my whole career.  Building relations with other apprentices from other companies in a similar situation to me has also allowed me to relate to them and provide great networking opportunities.”

Katie Wickham-Harrison, Senior Technician at SYSTRA, said: “It’s been a fantastic day and a really great way to meet other women in the industry. Sharing our experiences and supporting each other is incredibly important to help boost representation, and ensure that the women leaders of the future are inspired and encouraged in their careers. I’ve learnt a lot, and will be able to take that back to my colleagues at SYSTRA to further enhance what we’re doing on equality, diversity and inclusion.”


Notes to editors

About West Coast Partnership Development

West Coast Partnership Development (WCPD) is designing and mobilising new high-speed services for the UK. These services will run on the new High Speed 2 (HS2) route and the existing railway, delivering better services between London and Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Cumbria and Scotland.

Its goal is to maximise the benefits of the significant investment from the Department for Transport into the new High Speed 2 (HS2) railway, as well as the upgrades to the railway on the West Coast Mainline.

For the latest news, visit: https://www.westcoastpartnershipdevelopment.co.uk/

About High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) 

Representing companies with experience and an interest in high speed rail, High Speed Rail Group is committed to supporting the successful delivery of a world-class high speed rail network in Britain. Our members have helped deliver major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world, ranging from creating entirely new high speed networks through to maintaining and improving the UK’s existing rail network. This gives us a unique insight into both the shortcomings in the current network, and the transformative capacity and connectivity benefits that high speed rail can bring. 


Our unique set of expertise in engineering, operations, funding and regulation gives us the experience to ensure the extension of the high speed rail network leaves a lasting legacy for the UK. The company’s principal objective is: “to support, promote and champion the development of high speed rail in Great Britain”.