How Govia Thameslink is changing the face of the industry by attracting more female drivers

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

Govia Thameslink, which also operates Southern Rail and the Gatwick Express, has announced it has doubled its number of female driver applicants this month.

With recruitment and marketing campaigns, the company's number of female driver applications this year rose to 825, almost doubling the 413 the year before.

Paige Lunn, 29, is now among a growing pool of female talent, bringing equality to an industry that, in its own words, was historically seen as 'dark', 'dusty' and 'better suited to men'.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

She says: "The first time you get into a cab to drive, it's always a bit nerve-wracking. And when you get in on your own, it's that safety blanket normally sitting to the side of you isn't there, but you get used to it and its fun. When people think of driving trains they think of men which is how it's been I suppose, the industry is very male. But there's actually no barriers, to say that women can't do it. This is my career for life, hopefully!"

Lisa Gibbs first looked at a career in the cab when she was 21, but found it daunting. She's now sitting in the hot seat at the age of 56.

Lisa Gibbs, Train Driver Credit: ITV News Meridian

She says: "You've still got six months in the classroom because there's lots of rules you've got to learn. So I've got to learn them as much as any driver. So man or woman, it doesn't matter. I've not come across anyone treating me any differently because I'm a woman."

The rail company hopes to double its female intake yet again next term, on track for a 50/50 gender split across all its training programmes by the end of 2021.