A Dimboola Pacific National train driver is making history as the first woman to receive an intermodal train driver's qualification since the station was first built.
Erin Devenish is now a fully-qualified intermodal freight train driver after a challenging three-day assessment, which saw her undertake written, verbal and practical exams.
However, Ms Devenish's train driving journey began long before she earned an intermodal licence, with years of grain handling in Dimboola and Maryborough prior.
She said her career began during a Pacific National recruitment drive for more female drivers assistants.
"I was all over SA and Victoria loading grains trains so life got a bit crazy so I had to put life into perspective and realise that when I originally applied for the job I wanted to drive intermodal freight trains."
I am proud to be the first one to have passed through it because it opens the door up to others. Once I have done that, it proves that anyone can do this job.- Erin Devenish
Ms Devenish transferred to Dimboola, where she spent several years as a casual driver's assistant travelling between Adelaide, Dimboola and Melbourne.
After building up enough experience and knowledge, Ms Devenish applied to become a fully-licensed intermodal train driver.
The application process involved a three-day examination requiring trips with trainers back and forth from Melbourne and Adelaide.
Despite the pressure, Ms Devenish said she was calm and confident during the process, owing to the support she received from colleagues at her depot.
"In the assessment, I felt confident. I have had three years out here now. We have about 30 drivers in the depot and they have all taught me their ways of driving and train handling," she said.
"Basically, when you are going up for your drivers' ticket, you are the one who has to put your hand up to do it.
"You yourself have to be personally ready for it because once you go out on track and you have your drivers' ticket, it is just you and the other person.
"Essentially you need to be very confident in what you do because every shift is different and the circumstance that happens out on track is not always textbook."
Reflecting on her historical achievement, Ms Devenish said she was proud, but felt it had no impact on how she carried out her job.
"I am proud to be the first one to have passed through it because it opens the door up to others. Once I have done that, it proves that anyone can do this job," she said.
"Having said that, in this depot, when I go to work my gender does not play a part in it and it never has. I got to work, do my job, and the blokes that I work with are just mates.
"At the end of the day they have been very supportive and there is never a question about my ability to do the job because of my gender. It has always been I got and do my job and I go home."
Pacific National chief executive Paul Scurrah said Ms Devenish's achievement was a milestone for the company, which has focussed on improving gender balance across the organisation.
"I congratulate Erin on recently qualifying as a locomotive driver. At Pacific National we are committed to fostering an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce where we celebrate the capabilities and experiences each employee has to offer," he said.
"Pacific National is focused on improving our gender balance across the organisation, particularly in our large workforce of train drivers where we have historically had a predominantly male participation workforce.
"Recently we have seen an increased interest from women through our trainee driver recruitment campaigns and as a result we are pleased to be able to hire a greater proportion of women into these roles."
Mechanically-minded and a country girl at heart, Ms Devenish recommended any women interested in the job to give it a shot, calling train driving an incredibly rewarding career.
"I guess you can call me a bit of a gunzel," she said.
"You never know what the conditions are that you will come up against. Every shift is different and that is what I love about it. It is never boring on the job.
"Don't ever think that you can't do something because your gender will never ever stop you, it is your mind that will stop you. In this day and age, women can do anything they want to do as long as they put their mind to it."
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