North East engineer encourages more women to consider a career in the railway: Johanna Priestley, Network Rail engineer

Friday 21 Jun 2019

North East engineer encourages more women to consider a career in the railway

Region & Route:
London North Eastern & East Midlands

Johanna Priestley from Newcastle is using International Women in Engineering Day 2019 to encourage more women and girls to get into the discipline and the rail industry.

Johanna is a route asset manager for Network Rail, having begun her career on the railway nearly 30 years ago. Johanna was a track engineer in the North East for over ten years, before taking up a key role to improve train performance. Johanna was part of a wider team looking at how to make services more reliable for passengers and was responsible for the track element of this.

Now Johanna heads up a team of five who are responsible for looking after drainage, fencing and vegetation and making sure all of these assets are properly inspected and managed to prevent them from interfering with the running of trains.

Johanna hadn’t always planned to be an engineer. Initially, she went to college to study land surveying and mapping, however when she joined British Rail, she became more interested in engineering and went through further training to become a qualified civil engineer and incorporated engineer.

Speaking about her experience in engineering and the rail industry, she said: “My role is fantastic. Every day is different, and I get to work with a great team. I really feel as though I am making a difference and that’s what I love about engineering.

“You are tasked with problem solving and creating solutions which will make a real difference to the travelling public and our lineside neighbours, it is incredibly rewarding.

“I’m so glad that I ended up on this career path and in this industry. My message for any woman or girl considering engineering would be to suspend any myths you might have heard. Engineering is a fantastic career and something we can all excel at.”

Please keep an eye on our careers website for career opportunities including apprenticeships and graduate programmes -


Notes to Editors

International Women in Engineering Day (IWED) is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.

IWED 2019 is on Sunday, 23 June

Find out more at

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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