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State Rail Train Crewing Pilot Mentoring Program

A Live Mentoring Case Study - State Rail Authority of N.S.W. (Australia)



The State Rail Train Crewing Pilot Mentoring Program was introduced primarily to recruit and retain female employees into a traditionally male-dominated workplace. A loss of two-thirds of the women recruited into Train Crewing was previously the norm where male-oriented processes and people were highly resistant to change.

A network of support was needed which would enable women to "learn the ropes" quickly, and also to feel a sense of inclusion and acceptance within the organisation. Mentoring was implemented as part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure the long-term success of women applying for positions in predominantly male areas in State Rail.

It was also recognised that early support is important in the retention and success of all Trainee Guards and the pilot program was open to male and female new starters.

Following extensive research, the mentoring initiative at State Rail was supported and encouraged by the following groups:

  • Women in Rail Transport Taskforce
  • Senior women's focus group to determine barriers
  • Spokeswomen's group
  • Chief Executive Officer's 50% Male/Female project team
  • CityRail Human Resources Project team
  • Australian Rail Training Senior Management Group
  • Train Crewing women (Drivers/Guards) focus group
  • McArthy Management (Project Consultant)

The Train Crewing Pilot Mentoring Program was intended to:

  • Support the successful integration of women in Train Crewing
  • Ensure the long term success of female Trainee Guards
  • Trial/Pilot the concept of mentoring for other areas of State Rail

The Growth Connection Pty Ltd was appointed to build world's best practice into the design and implementation of a Pilot Mentoring Program and tailor it to meet Train Crewing needs. The Train Crewing mentoring pilot started with a focus group where a cross section of Train Crew (Drivers, Guards, Inspectors, Train Guards, Senior Management and Human Resources Personnel) explored the benefits of mentoring and developed the mission and objectives for the pilot. At the end of this process almost all in the group volunteered to be mentors.

CityRail then published a booklet introducing mentoring which gave credibility and status to the program throughout State Rail. An invitation to Train Crew to volunteer as mentors was included in the booklet, and 82 Guards and Drivers responded for the 16 available places in the first pilot.

The following report summarises the highly successful introduction of the Pilot Mentoring Program into Train Crewing. Among many other benefits it provided the mentors with renewed enthusiasm and motivation in their careers as well as delivering the intended support to mentorees.

It should be noted that our research indicates that Train Crewing pioneered the first mentoring program in Australia that has succeeded in a shift work environment in a non white-collar area. All who have been involved are to be commended for making it work so well.


Move on to the next section of this article:
Analysis of the Pilot Mentoring Program


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