I’ve always been passionate about transport. You can never underestimate the importance of having access to the world around you. Like so many others I have friends and family, including my mother, who are reliant not just on the provision of transport but of accessible transport. I have no doubt that we all know people for whom accessible and inclusive transport (what I’ve come see as the heart of the community transport sector) is an indispensable necessity.
Those words- accessible and inclusive transport- are ones that I’ve heard a lot since the Community Transport Association came on my radar, and they’re words that resonate with me. It’s always been important to me that everyone, everywhere, has a right to accessible and inclusive transport; the work that community transport does to ensure that people do have access to the transport they need is truly inspiring.
That’s why I’m so pleased to be the next Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Community Transport Association. I’m thrilled to be heading up the CTA’s board and working alongside some exceptional individuals that I can now call my colleagues.
A little bit about me: my name’s Susan Evans and I’m the Customer Director at Alstom Transport and an Alstom UK Board Member.
Alstom UK has been a key part of the British rail industry for over a century; it employs over 3,200 people across more than 20 sites in the UK and has been involved in the widest range of transport solutions in the market. It’s built the Pendolino trains for the West Coast Main Line; half of the trains on the London underground; it recently designed and built two new tram lines in Nottingham; and Alstom is heavily involved in signalling and electrification upgrades across the UK for Network Rail.
In my role, I work with a wide range of people, including MPs, local politicians, local residents and journalists, to build networks and relationships for Alstom UK. I’m also responsible for customer focus, delivery excellence and the management of profit and loss for our operations. I led on the £450 million extension to the Nottingham tram network and created and chair the ‘Women in Alstom’ group. Before working at Alstom I held a number of positions across technology, research and development, business development and engineering.
Applying to be the Chair of the CTA, therefore, felt like a natural step for me. I see it as an opportunity to take the skills I’ve built over my career in the corporate world, and to use them differently: to be part of a not for profit organisation, and a movement, that makes a genuine difference to the lives of so many.
I hope, and in fact I’m confident, that my appointment as chair will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the CTA. It’s an organisation that’s embarking on the next stage of its development and I was appointed because my experience and skills can help the CTA fulfil its vision of building a society where everyone can be vibrant and involved members of their communities.
And this fits in so well with my role at Alstom: we can put people on trams and trains but that’s not always the beginning, or the end, of their journeys. How do we get them from their homes to the train stations, especially if they don’t have a car or good public transport links? How do we ensure that everyone can get from A-B when there are a lot of steps in between? These are the questions we’re asking at Alstom and I’ve no doubt that community transport can be part of the solution.
It’s incumbent upon all of us, whatever area of transport we work in, to make sure that everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can get where they need to go. As I step into the world of community transport, I’m struck by the work that CT operators do to fulfil this goal, and I’m excited to work alongside them.
I’m also pleased to be writing this in the context of International Women’s Day which took place recently. Diversity in transport, and across the whole of our society, is something that I am incredibly passionate about. Encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in transport is of vital importance and, at Alstom, we’re committed to promoting and celebrating the role of women within industry and business. And this isn’t just a moral or ethical passion but a practical one. Diversity brings thinking and ideas from those with different backgrounds and from different walks of life, something that is so important for any sector that wants to thrive and flourish. I know that this passion, and this commitment, extends to the CTA and to the community transport sector, something which makes me even more excited to get to work!
I’ll be taking on the role of Chair of the Board later this year and I look forward to working with you all to ensure that the provision of accessible and inclusive transport thrives across the UK.