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A record number of women are in the driver’s seat on Adelaide railways as more females make a career move into public transport

Former flight attendant Rhiannon Godlevski swapped flying for train driving nearly two years ago, and now she helps carry 38,600 daily commuters along six Adelaide Metro lines.

The mother-of-one is among 35 females who make up about 20 per cent of the network’s 172 train drivers – up by 775 per cent from four women three years ago.

‘’I’ve been interested in trains my whole life, so the thought of being able to operate one and have full responsibility over that vehicle was exciting,’’ she says.

Drawn to the tracks by the technical demands of driving, Ms Godlevski started training for the role with Keolis Downer a few months after the birth of her son, Lloyd.

“The sisterhood is a pretty close-knit one. We have lots of young mums which is great; there’s always a frantic wave when we see each other on the platforms,’’ she says.

From former chefs to finance workers and fellow aviation professionals – Ms Godlevski has a commercial pilot licence and spent 12 years in cabin crew with Qantas   – the women have diverse professional backgrounds.

Ms Godlevski says job security and the flexibility of shift work make train driving an appealing option for mothers seeking better work/life balance and a fulfilling career.

‘’We all bring a different skillset. For me, it ticked a lot of boxes: high-level training, still being able to provide excellent customer service to people, and taking on more of a technical role,’’ she adds.

“Although it’s not a physical job, mentally, you need to be on. You need to stay focussed for long periods doing repetitive tasks because things can change at the drop of a hat.

“You need to be very aware of your procedures and particularly the following of your signals and dealing directly with train control who oversee the operation and make sure we are operating safely.

“You have to be adaptable and flexible to realise what is actually behind you because there’s a lot of meterage and tonnage that you are responsible for.’’

Ms Godlevski is proud to play a part in busting the stereotype that rail is a man’s domain.

“You see the impact on children, particularly young girls who say, `Are you the driver?’ because they might have thought they could never do that.  It’s surreal to be able to answer, `yes I am’ and encourage them so that they know they are growing up in a world of opportunity.’’

Ms Godlevski says the Belair line is a shift favourite for its scenery and technical difficulty, while trundling over the Onkaparinga Bridge never gets old.

‘’I love coming into Adelaide Railway Station too and watch and smile as all the people make their way past,’’ Ms Godlevski says.

‘’In the morning, I always say to my little one, ‘Mummy has to go to work now to take all the other mummies and daddies to work’.

‘’What a great feeling it is to be able to provide that for people who maybe don’t have the financial means to travel by vehicle, or who just like the convenience of commuting by rail to and from work.’’

To women considering making tracks towards public transport, Ms Godlevski says:

‘’You are so welcome! It is full of opportunity, so come and join us.’’