Network Rail

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 Britain's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway and to get people and goods where they need to be and support our country’s economic prosperity.

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Apprentice On-track Machine (OTM) Driver


Sam Roper – National Rail

Role: Apprentice On-track Machine (OTM) Driver

“Continuing to challenge all forms of bias, discrimination and gender stereotyping is making the railway a more inclusive place to work. There’s still a long way to go but I hope that my role as an Apprentice On-track Machine (OTM) Driver can go some way to inspiring other women to consider careers in engineering and maintenance.”

Sam shows there are no barriers to a new career path.

After more than a decade serving her country, there are few challenges that would phase Sam Roper. Having left the Royal Navy in 2019, a role as stores person in Supply Chain Operations (SCO) for Network Rail proved a good opportunity. But it was clear she didn’t want to stop there. Sam has now set her sights on training for a role that will see her achieve a significant first for Network Rail.

Sam has started an apprenticeship to become a train driver. While that’s not remarkable in itself – there are many female drivers working for train operators – Sam would become the only female driver operating Network Rail’s tamper trains.

Tampers are used in track maintenance to make sure the track is correctly aligned and has a smooth level along the rail. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m excited to get on board and do it” she says.

Sam joined the Navy from school, and spent 14 years working as a survival equipment specialist. It’s a role she said developed her confidence and sense of discipline as well as an understanding of safety critical activity and the importance of following procedures.

“It’s a bit different to your normal day-to-day job,” she says. “You have to be ready for anything.”

Following the birth of her two children, Sam then decided it was time for a career change and joined Network Rail in September 2019. She explains: “it was a role quite close to home, which suited me at the time. I hadn’t really thought about a railway career before but after I joined, I realised there were a lot of opportunities. I had the chance to interact with other drivers and this got me thinking about becoming one myself.”