On Thursday 7 June 2018, Women in Rail held its third annual Big Rail Diversity Challenge and welcomed 570 Industry delegates from across the sector to Peterborough Arena.

A cross between “It’s a Knockout” and “Krypton Factor”, The Big Rail Diversity Challenge provided participants with an opportunity to network, team build and fundraise whilst undertaking fun gender balanced team challenges.

The event has grown by a staggering 75% since its launch just two years ago and has truly captured the hearts and minds of the industry – which demonstrates how serious rail is about improving gender diversity and supporting the brilliant work that Women in Rail undertakes.

Following feedback discussions after last year’s event, challenges were developed to accommodate people with disabilities / special requirements in mind to ensure that the event is as inclusive as possible.

Launched to promote the aims of Women in Rail, The Big Rail Diversity Challenge provides a range of skill-based, physically and mentally demanding challenges from Archery to Escape Room, Laser Quest to inflatable Volleyball, scaling the Twin Peaks to Zumba, Hovercraft skills to mind boggling Quizzes and Surf Simulators to Blindfolded Face Painting – with the aim to show that gender diverse teams work better together.

“The Big Rail Diversity Challenge is an important step in the rail industry agenda. It openly tackles rail’s outdated image, demonstrates that the industry is not afraid to engage both men and women in equal measure and shows our sector’s commitment to improving gender balance and diversity in order to create a more attractive, productive and successful industry,” said Adeline Ginn, founder of Women in Rail.

The event was opened by Malcolm Brown, CEO Angel Trains and board member for Women in Rail London. Malcolm commented: ‘What a truly inspirational event the Big Rail Diversity Challenge is, to see so many colleagues from the industry there, working together, enjoying themselves, I would encourage all organisations and individuals to get involved in this and other Women in Rail events.”

Support came in all forms, with members of the British Transport Police, Royal Air Force, British Army Royal Engineers, and members from rail industry charities, Railway Benefit Fund and Railway Children, providing challenges on the day.

The event closed with a fun award ceremony and acknowledgement was paid to teams who stood out in individual challenges, taking into consideration the highest scores earned, team effort, collaborative working and communication.


“The Railway Children Street Art Challenge Award”Winner: Team Name

“Best Team Name Award”Winner: Team Name: /span>

“The Collaborative Teamwork Award”

“The Team of the Year Award”

“Bring on the Beans Award”

2018 Event Sponsors



Pitch Perfect!

As seen on a popular TV show, grab your mic and try to guess the missing lyrics from some classic karaoke favourites. You’ll have your fallbacks, but will you ‘forget the lyrics’?

Escape Room

You will be briefed, you will solve the clues but time is ticking… will you escape?

Word Blind

A cross between  ™Pictionary, ™Rapidough and Charades where teams will have to identify specific words from their teammates’ drawings, acting and model making.  Sounds simple? Wait until you see the words!

Diversity Sports Day!  

Teams will compete in a series of classic sports day challenges to see who comes out on top! Including, Giant Egg and Spoon, Sack  and Three-Legged Racing, Hula Hoops  and other favourites – finished with a Tug of War to complete the challenge.

Rock Climbing

A head to head race to the summit! Which path you choose will allow you to become number one on the clock!

Big Rail Derby

And they’re off! Take part in the Big Rail Derby as jockeys ride down the straight into the finish; will you be victorious – or will you fall at the first hurdle? In true Big Rail style our horses are a little different from the ones you see at Ascot!


Volleyball with a twist – teams will be sat on the floor as they aim to hit a ball over a net and land it within the opposition’s court. Teams have three passes, to form an attacking play, before the ball has to go over the net.

Football Darts

Combining two classic favourites, players will have three chances to score as many points as possible by kicking the ‘footballs’ against the giant dart board! Who will land on bullseye… and who will go offside?!

Golden Balls

Relive childhood memories and dive into the giant ball pond to retrieve the Golden Balls hidden amongst the others! Teams will compete to see who can find the most Golden Balls in the time allowed.

Leaning Tower of Balloons

Hands to the pumps as teams compete to construct the tallest tower – from modelling balloons! No other materials are allowed.


Quintessentially British! Bow in hand, teams will try to score the most points on the range. With arrows flying, will you hit the bullseye?

Crazy Lasers

This challenge will bring out the Stormtrooper in you as you dodge the lasers while trying to beat the opposition. May the force be with you!

Knocked Out 

Teams battle it out in slapstick style to win challenges with a twist. We’re talking giant penguin costumes, huge inflatables, wacky relay races and enough foam to fill a bubble factory.  

Blindfolded Face Painting

Bring out the make up artist in your team in this race against the clock to create a masterpiece. Not as simple as it sounds; four team members will become blindfolded make up artists, four will be painted and two will give verbal instructions to the artists!

Event Testimonials

On behalf of the YRP team, I wanted to thank you, both of you and the rest of the organising team, for putting together such a brilliant initiative.

The team and I had so much fun, engraving fantastic memories (and pictures!) and was excellent team building experience.

This is without forgetting the purpose of the event – YRP committee members knows the values of diverse teams – whether it is gender, age, nationalities, background and even professions!

Sabrina Ihaddaden
National Chair – Young Rail Professionals

TSP would like to thank you for organizing the Diversity Challenge. We think it is important to support this message and the events and everyone enjoyed participating. The “Strengthener’s of the Lost Arch” greatly enjoyed the day and learned a great deal about team work, driving a virtual Lamborghini and who to rely on if we ever need an emergency shelter.

Thank you for your hard work.

Lee Owen – Bridges Team Leader
& TSP Projects “Strengthener’s of the Lost Arch”

Yesterday’s Big Rail Diversity Challenge took me totally out of my comfort zone and into a zorb, onto a Segway, part of a human table football game among other things. And you know what? I had a great time, worked in a team with people from my company I don’t normally come across and found some hidden talents… thank you!

Bridget Jackson, High Speed 2

Thanks so much for the chance to take part in such an amazing day. The wide range of opportunities to stretch our collective brains and to take part in some great physical challenges made for an exceptional day – enjoyable and all in an incredibly worthy cause. Highly recommended.

David Statham – Managing Director
Southeastern Railway

Aiming to bring together the entire rail industry under one roof is quite an undertaking. Cleverly though, the organisers Women in Rail and Nimble Media manager to do this by simply getting the biggest roof they could find… an aircraft hangar in fact! Highlights of the day included the Pedal powered house-kart challenge and the exhausting spider web climb, plus of course bumping into old colleagues from years gone by. In essence, if these hundreds of people represent the rail industry, then it’s in fine fettle.

Will Baxter, Brand Consultant/Managing Director
WillB Brand Consultants

The team from Fusion were thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part in such a fantastic concept. It’s refreshing to see events like the Big Rail Diversity Challenge taking place. Proving that you can raise the profile of serious agendas but in an innovative and team spirited fashion. Our thanks go to Women in Rail for hosting this event on behalf of the industry.

Nissar Mohammed, Managing Director

The Big Rail Diversity Challenge tested everything including; speed, creativity, memory, hand eye coordination, fitness, concentration, logical reasoning, ingenuity, engineering talent and of course our team working skills as all activities required everyone to take part, occasionally with many of the team blindfolded!

My personal favourite challenge was the Le Mans Soapbox challenge, in which we created an aerodynamic, stylish, decorated racing car (with wings!) from a very basic go kart frame, cardboard and tape. This was then raced, unfortunately we lost the race but we defiantly had the best looking car!

The event provides the opportunity to build on working relationships and learn and improve some of our ‘soft skills’. Many of which are translatable to the office environment, for example communication, planning, adaptability, reasoning

Penny Gilg, Graduate Engineer
TSP Projects

‘What a fabulous event! Such a unique opportunity for teams to have so much fun away from formalised environments. Everyone is on a level in their sports kit and team shirts, no suits or uniforms. The Nimble team did an incredible job and no detail was missed. They created an incredibly fun atmosphere on a massive scale. The room was full of laughter and team spirit. We can’t wait to be there next year- if they will have us!!’

Faye Jacques
Fundraising Manager Rail, Benefit Fund

I just wanted to send a mail to tell you what an absolutely fantastic time the Virgin Trains Team had last Friday. The event was amazing, the staff were great and the organisation was second to none. We will definitely be back next year

Sharon Noble
Lead Finance Business Partner, Virgin Trains East Coast

I just want to say thank you for last Friday. An absolutely brilliant day and we can’t wait to be part of it again next year!

Joanna Hemmings
Communications Manager, Network Certification Body

Railway Children was delighted to be involved with the Big Rail Diversity Challenge. A fantastically well organised event that generated so much positive energy amongst all the teams. A great team building and networking opportunity for all involved. Well done Nimble Media and Women in Rail!

Katie Mason
Events Manager, Railway Children

“The team and I really enjoyed the Rail Diversity Challenge 2017. It was a great way to meet colleagues working across the country as well as to meet with customers and suppliers in an informal setting. The team spirit started strong as we split into two mini groups to design our soapbox racer! The ladies took the front, the gents took the back, and we supped up our kart ready for the race track. Sadly we didn’t get across the line first, but we did keep that teamwork strong throughout the day. The human table football really brought us together, with a 5-aside match. Team members swapped at halftime, but the support and advice from the each half of our spectating team was wonderful. Each goal scored was cheered as if we had been following our league team.”

Liz Lothian
Production Engineer, Knorr-Bremse RailServices (UK) Limited

“To be honest, myself and the rest of the team had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up to the Big Rail Diversity Challenge but we had an absolutely amazing time and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The event itself was brilliantly managed and ran like absolute clockwork. I can genuinely say, on behalf of myself and the rest of the team, we never stopped laughing from the start to the finish and the event was THE BEST team building experience(s) we’ve ever had. We were all set to sign up for next year’s event before we’d even jumped on the train home……which is a marl of what a great day we’d had!”

Paul Larder
Senior Retail Assurance Manager, Virgin Trains East Coast

I loved the whole day!
A diverse eclectic, committed and energetic bunk of individuals came together to deliver an outstanding result that we were all very pleased about.

Nick Binks
Business Improvement and Risk Manager, Angel trains

We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to you and everyone who organized the fantastic Big Rail Diversity Challenge. We all had a superb experience. The biggest compliment to you and your team I think, was even thought I was full of aches and pains on an early shift on the Platform on Friday, when a colleague asked how it went my response was “if I got a call today to do it all again tomorrow, I would be booking my tickets and I think most of my teammates would say the same. So, a HUGE thank you from everyone, I look forward to next year’s event, but think there will be a lot more people volunteering when they here of our experience.

Tony Brindley
MTR Crossrail

Thank you for a fantastic event on Thursday! All of our colleagues thoroughly enjoyed it and the day was very well organised.

Natalie Sparrow
Southeastern Railways

Fantastic day last week, the event is getting bigger and better every year. Well done to you and the team.

Maria Clark

This was our first time putting a team together for the Big Rail Diversity Challenge. We had colleagues from site and office and although a number of us talk to our site staff via phone or email this was the first chance we got to meet face to face and bond which the day really helped us to do and work as a team and support one another.
We all had a fantastic day and can’t wait to do it again! Although inflatable sports are a lot harder that they look!!
Thanks for a great day – so well organised!!

Kimberley McGinty
Skills and Employment Advisor, VGC Group

The Big Rail Diversity Challenge was the one of the best days of my career so far!
The teamwork and communication required meant for a brilliant, constructive day with colleagues, as well as it is being extremely fun and a great networking event with all of the other companies in the room. It was absolutely incredible to see such diversity at the event and the value added as a result. A very well run-day and brilliant opportunity which I would encouraging everyone to get involved with!

Fran Palmer
SCS Railways

I would like to say what a fantastic day we at East Midlands Trains had. We made new friends but most of all we bonded as a team.
The event that you put on was fantastic so well planned and organised with the main theme of having fun so well done.

Darren Field-Thomas
East Midlands TrainsEND

Support Women In Rail

Becoming a ‘Big Rail Diversity Challenge’ sponsor allows your company to promote its support of Women in Rail and its values, encourage diversity and promote initiatives aimed at positioning rail as an attractive career choice for young people.

“NSAR is delighted to be involved in “Women in Rail: Big Rail Diversity Challenge” and coordinate industry efforts in attracting and promoting new talent to enable the rail sector to be competitively positioned with other industries.

We are committed to diversity, equality and inclusion and aim to transform rail into a sector where each individual is able to succeed based on their dreams, skills and talent.”

The National Skills Academy Rail


We are delighted to support such an innovative event. We haven’t seen anything of its kind before!

The Railway Benefit Fund has seen how much opportunity there is to develop a more diverse workforce and what massive benefits can be achieved by doing so.

We are keen to learn about the key factors which are limiting the levels of diversity in our industry. If there is something we can do at the RBF to support and make a difference then we will!



The RSG fully supports this event as part of its commitment to see a more diverse workforce. The ‘Big Rail Diversity Challenge’ will deliver the Women in Rail undertaking by showing that gender diverse teams raise awareness for women working across the rail industry and the business benefit attained when companies improve gender balance.

The rail industry is struggling to recruit sufficient numbers into critical roles, such as systems engineers, signal designers, project managers, commercial managers and trainers. The sector particularly fails to attract women into engineering-related roles; gender diversity figures are unacceptable, with women numbering a mere 4% of railway engineers compared to 6% of the current UK engineering workforce and 12% across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related sectors.

This is part of a broader challenge across engineering sectors. It is prevalent in every aspect of the skills pipeline; from attracting students to enrol in STEM subjects at school, to encouraging engineering graduates and apprenticeships to come into the sector, to creating potential future industry leaders and front-line supervisors.

The Rail Supply Group

RSG Logo

Whether in the skies above Britain, or in the airspaces around the world, it is our job to protect the United Kingdom against any form of threat. We also act as a force for good in the world – by working to strengthen international peace and security.

To fulfil this vital role, we need highly-trained people throughout our organisation. With over 55 different roles, there is something for everyone, and each job would see you play a key part in one of the world’s most advanced military forces.

The RAF is an equal opportunities employer that recognises the value of an individual’s ability regardless of their gender, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, background, religion or belief, sexual orientation or marital status or civil partnership. The RAF believes that harnessing the talents and skills of individuals from different groups enhances operational effectiveness.

To find out more visit:

We are an Engineering Group, and as such are interested in the qualifications and Experience that people will bring into our Organisation. We need people who are forward thinking, able to work under pressure, possibly overseas in area’s without the technology that would be expected in the UK, and able to establish good teamwork with Locally Employed Nationals.

We are supporting the Women in Rail event as we are wanting to communicate the need for engineers within the Military, and the role that women can have within the Engineering establishments, and show them how they can realise their potential.

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Young Rail Professionals (YRP) was founded in 2009 to promote, inspire and develop the next generation of railway talent. YRP brings together people from all aspects of the industry, whether they are involved in engineering, asset management, train operations, strategic planning, maintenance, franchising, regulation, marketing or human relations. We are open to any early career rail professional.

To enhance and inspire our members, YRP delivers a programme of networking and professional development events across the country, including technical seminars, presentations, site visits and socials. We work closely with a number of professional institutions, running regular events with the Railway Study Association, Institute of Railway Operators and Women in Rail. A full list of our collaborators can be found here. We also run a Rail Ambassadors programme with STEMnet, providing opportunities for our members – now totalling over 4,800 – to visit schools, colleges and universities to attract the next generation into this dynamic industry.

YRP is free to join, and we do not charge for our professional development events. Simply register on our website and sign up to events in your region.

YRP Testimonial

Our YRP team members are both eager and excited to participate in WR’s BIG Rail Diversity Challenge. This action-packed day is sure to be great fun for everyone involved, but it represents much more.

The vision of this team building, networking and fundraising event extends far beyond the gender-balanced teams tackling the challenges. This day is raising awareness of the benefits of gender diversity and advocating for a more representative rail industry. Women in Rail see a future railway industry which has more than just 16% women across the board and more than 4% female engineers. YRP are proud to support WR as they work to make this future a reality. For the first time in our history, YRP has gender balanced executive committee led by a woman.

Rail is a vibrant and exciting industry that offers enormous opportunities for fulfilling careers where individuals get to make a real, tangible difference to others. Why would we want to restrict those opportunities to only one group of people? Our best chance of success as an industry is through encouraging everyone, regardless of their gender or background to see the rail sector as their chance for an exciting future. Finding innovative and fun ways to get people thinking about how to achieve this and how to break down the barriers to rail diversity is vital – the Big Rail Diversity Challenge is a brilliant example of just that.”

Nigel Harris,
Managing Editor & Events Director