Hello and welcome to the Women in Rail North West Regional Group!
The Women in Rail North West Regional Group (WRNW Group) was launched this year to support and empower members of Women in Rail based in the North West of England, provide them with a forum to develop their network locally and support them in their professional development, personal growth and confidence.
The WRNW Group is led by Debbie Francis (Committee Chair), and is supported by Chris Nutton (Committee Member), Victoria Snell (Committee Communications), Caitriona Gibson (Committee Membership), Sally Buttifant (Committee Member), Anna-jane Hunter (Committee Outreach), Laura Price (Committee Treasurer), Rachael Storey (Committee Member) and Liam Sumpter (Committee Member).
All are volunteers, with full time day jobs, collectively representing a cross-section of the railway industry in the North West region and passionate about working with men, women and like-minded organisations in the North West to support the diversity ambitions championed by Women in Rail.
To make sure you don’t miss out on the wide range of activities organised by the WRNW Group register on the Contact Us page and join the Women in Rail community in the North West of England. Membership is completely free and will give you access to the local and national events organised by the team.
Debbie Francis – Committee Chair
Debbie joined Direct Rail Services Limited in July 2016 as the Managing Director following 3 ½ years at Network Rail as the Finance & Commercial Director for the LNW route. Debbie has 30 years of experience across a range of industries from IT to infrastructure maintenance to rail.
She has also gained extensive experience throughout her career both in the UK and overseas in finance, systems, commercial, operations and business development.
She has a 2:1 degree in Business Studies from Liverpool Polytechnic, an MBA from Manchester Business School and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA). She originally left school at the age of 16 with virtually no qualifications and took a rather circuitous route through education although throughout that time she continued to build steadily on her business experience and career. Debbie is passionate about business, diversity and equality, developing and promoting talent and all things ‘adventuring’.
Chris Nutton – Committee Member
Currently the Major Projects Director at TransPennine Express, responsible for new trains and infrastructure development. Chris has 17 years’ experience in the industry since joining First as an Operations Graduate trainee. Chris has experience leading teams across operations, fleet and commercial including roles in Traincrew and Train Planning as well as holding roles as Head of Performance for Northern and also for 3 years at Virgin Trains before joining TPE in 2010. During 2014/15 worked on First Group’s bid team and led the team developing timetable, infrastructure and fleet plans for its winning bid for the new TPE franchise building on his experience from introduction of new timetables and the class 350 fleet at TPE.
Over the last five years Chris has led collaboration with Network Rail and Northern Rail in the implementation of network upgrades such as Northern Hub and Electrification. His team are currently overseeing a 50% increase in fleet size with the introduction of 3 new fleets, comprising 221 new vehicles, over the next three years.
Victoria Snell – Committee Communications
Victoria started her career in the railway for the supplier for First Groups contact centre services. After working there for 3.5 years Victoria made the move to the North to work for TransPennine Express directly. She has now been with the company for a year in the Customer Experience Team and is loving the challenge. She has also joined the Diversity Council that TPE set up last year, as well as the company choir
Caitriona Gibson – Committee Membership
Celebrating my tenth year with Network Rail this year, I am delighted to be included on the WR committee for the North West branch. I bring to the table health and safety experience, mentoring and coaching, teaching and training, people management and lateral thinking, and I believe that by empowering other women and educating young people we can ensure that rail is a welcoming and rewarding environment for everyone.
Rachael Storey – Committee Member
Rachael joined the commercial department at Direct Rail Services in 2015 as a Business Support Officer and is now in the acting position of Communications and Marketing Manager. She has enjoyed her time in the industry so far and the diversity and challenges each day brings. New to Women in Rail, she is looking forward to promoting and supporting networking opportunities for North West Region of Women in Rail.
Anna-jane Hunter – Committee Outreach
Anna-jane works for First Group and, although she is currently working for their Rail Division in London, can normally be found in Manchester with Transpennine Express. With over 10 years of Rail industry experience in a variety of operations and commercial roles, Anna-jane will be working to ensure knowledge of Women in Rail spreads far and wide, including outside the industry itself.
Liam Sumpter – Committee Member
Liam Sumpter was appointed as a Regional Director for Northern in May 2016 and now runs the Central region, which covers the Greater Manchester area as well as parts of Lancashire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Prior to joining Northern Liam worked at Network Rail for 14 years where he held a variety of senior finance and operational roles. Most latterly Liam was Area Director for the West Midlands & Chilterns during the opening of the new railway from Bicester-Oxford and the re-opening of Birmingham New Street.