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Life at First

We’re making training fun

At GWR, we’re underway with our biggest fleet upgrade in 40 years, which will bring new experiences to our customers when it comes to enjoying more seats, more frequent trains, and faster, more comfortable journeys.

But our customers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Our drivers get to experience something new and exciting too, as they also need to learn how to drive our new trains using our full cab simulators.

And that’s where our commitment to Learning and Development really comes in. Learning how to drive a new kind of train can be daunting so we’re working hard to create a group based blended learning programme that suits lots of different styles, and is as much fun as possible.

woman fixing bus

Inspiring girls across the UK to choose driving and engineering

The UK might have the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, but two women from First Bus are doing everything they can to change that.

Kelly, an Apprentice Mechanical/Electrical engineer based in Southampton and Michelle, an Engineering Apprentice in Bristol are hoping to inspire a future generation of girls to choose driving or engineering careers.

Kelly and Michelle are proving that there are no barriers preventing women from working within the transport industry. And their advice to any budding bus drivers or mechanics is to get started as early as possible and never give up, because this is a job that anyone can be great at!

community image

There’s £5m up for grabs in our SWR communities

Did you know that our commitment to helping our communities goes much further than just providing fast, frequent and comfortable rail travel that gets passengers to where they want to go?

At South Western Railway, we also have our brilliant Customer and Communities Improvement Fund that’s designed to support social and community projects across our Mainland and Island Line networks.

There’s a total of more than £5m up for grabs for projects that have a clear link to the railway, and which bring something positive to our communities, and we can’t wait to see how - and where - that money is spent.

You can find out more here

Ex-Thomas Cook staff going places with GWR

The collapse of Thomas Cook was a dark moment for its staff around the world. But many are now putting their skills to good use as part of the team at GWR (Great Western Railway).

After the global travel group collapsed, leaving many personnel without a job, GWR stepped in, putting out a recruitment message for cabin crew and ground staff. Many Thomas Cook employees had impressive customer skills that would transfer perfectly from aviation to rail. And GWR seized the opportunity to bring fresh talent into its team. Some 30 former Thomas Cook employees have now been fast-tracked into a range of customer-facing roles.

"The good bits from aviation are also in rail - the camaraderie, the laughs and jokes - and people were really supportive,” says Jamie Iaquaniello, who’s gone from Thomas Cook’s cabin crew to working on GWR’s London Paddington-based services.

First Bus Apprentice achieves an industry first

David John has become the first apprentice from the bus industry to join an influential government advice panel.

The First Bus Engineering Apprentice was invited to represent engineering on the IfA’s (Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education) Apprentice panel. This gives apprentices a chance to be part of national reforms to technical education. “I was really elated to find out I’m on the panel,” says David. “There is a changing culture in the approach to apprenticeships and I’m pleased to be part of that.”

Even our blue buses are green

Being a transport company, we’re naturally committed to doing our bit for the environment, and we get behind all kinds of green initiatives like the recent Clean Air Day, plus many more.

And if you’re a passenger, it’s even easier to get on board and support the cause too - and all you need to do is catch a bus to wherever you’re heading instead of driving. That’s because a full double decker bus can carry the same number of people that around 75 average cars on our roads carry.

So, it doesn’t matter what colour our buses are - they’re actually greener than you think!

Say hello to one of our newest TransPennine Express conductors

Inayat Adams has to be one of our most exciting rising stars! Since joining TransPennine Express (TPE) in 2016, he’s taken advantage of training to go from cleaning operative, to Revenue Protection, to qualified conductor.

Now part of TPE’s friendly, on-board team, Inayat volunteers for the Diversity & Inclusion Council and uses his skills to support diversity across the business. “TransPennine Express gives me the opportunity to train and develop and constantly challenge myself,” says Inayat. “I have attended lots of training including Disability Awareness, which is essential for providing an excellent service to all customers.”

Creating precious memories that will last a lifetime

Here at First Group, we love putting people first and we’re always looking for ways in which we can help out charities and other good causes.

It’s why we recently teamed up with the Family Holiday Association this summer to give disadvantaged families from across the North a chance to explore some of our great cities or enjoy a trip to the seaside.

We estimate that around 40 families with more than 80 children will benefit from the initiative, and we’re confident that these much-needed trips will help create precious memories that will last a lifetime.

Find out more about the Family Holiday association here.

Not every bus needs a bus driver

Every bus needs a bus driver, right? Wrong. Or at least not when that bus can drive all by itself!

These days, technology and transport go hand in hand, which is why we jumped at the chance to lead on a project that introduced the UK’s first ever fleet of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) last year.

The project was designed to tackle the problem of congestion on our roads, and to help enable a sustainable future when it comes to public transport. And we hope to get involved in lots more projects like this in the coming years, so watch this space.