Francesca Sturgess

Rail Operator

"Currently, I am a Rail Operator at GBRf. The typical day to day at work for me involves personal preparation for my train shunting duties (ensuring I have charged up any devices I need and I have all relevant equipment with me). Once I'm at the location I'm working at, I’m responsible for safely accepting and departing freight trains in and out of yard or terminal. I really enjoy problem solving and liaising with our customers to gain the best way of doing something to fulfil business needs. Each day can vary a lot, as each location and I go to is different – from a container train to a train carrying sand used to make glass. This is what keeps the job interesting for me. Although each day can vary, safety is paramount in every working day for me."

Any career advice?

Perseverance is key in any career path you choose. And never hold yourself back or doubt your abilities, you'd be surprised what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.


I enjoyed my experience at school and my favourite subject was Philosophy and Ethics. I feel I benefited from this subject a lot with debating and questioning different subject matters. I now apply my questioning skills I attained from this subject in my current role if I'm ever unsure about anything. I left Sixth Form halfway through the studying year, as I realised it wasn't the path I wanted to take. I don't regret this decision, as I managed to find a brilliant career path along with many amazing opportunities within GBRf.

Into work

While I was in Year 10 at school, I started working at a local pub. I went for a job before I left school to give myself the best opportunity at applying for a job in the future, and to gain experience working with a wide selection of people in society. I then worked in a few more hospitality industry-based jobs while I decided what direction I wanted my career to go in. I eventually joined GBRf when I was 17 as a Roster Clerk, which involved planning traincrew (drivers and rail operators) to relevant work. After working in rosters for a year I moved into the commercial side of the business, where I would check resources and availability to fulfil customer requests from Network Rail in relation to their engineering trains.

Training and qualifications

I recently completed my training to become a Rail Operator at GBRf which was based in Peterborough at our new training facility. This training has proved invaluable and has really furthered my career. It was a massive change compared to my previous office roles within GBRf, however this big step has really assisted me to grow as an individual. Before this training I had previously completed a course from the Institution of Rail Operators. I did this to gain more knowledge on the rail industry as a whole and I'm thankful that GBRf gave me this opportunity.

Outside of work

I enjoy going to the gym, swimming and socialising with friends and family. I realise having a work-life balance is really very important.