Zena Dent has been appointed as the new engineering director of West Midlands Trains (WMT).
In her new role, Zena, who joined WMT as a project manager in 2018, will oversee the introduction of two brand-new train fleets as well as the maintenance of the existing fleet.
WMT runs services under the West Midlands Railway ( West Midlands regional services) and London Northwestern Railway (London to Liverpool via the West Midlands) brands.
When she takes up her post on 6 July, Zena will become one of only a handful of female engineering directors working at Britain’s train operating companies. She will be the first woman to hold the position at a West Midlands rail franchise.
Widely experienced, Zena began her career with British Rail in the 1990s. Post privatisation, she has worked for Interfleet Technology (now SNC-Lavalin) and train leasing companies Eversholt Rail and Porterbrook. During this time, she has overseen the purchase and implementation of a number of train fleets across the country, including the high-speed Class 395 Javelin trains, introduced on Southeastern ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Zena said: “It is a very exciting time to take up this post as we are on the cusp of a significant positive change with our two fantastic new train fleets.
“This will start with our smart new, air-conditioned diesel fleet carrying passengers in the West Midlands followed by our new electric trains which will particularly benefit our popular commuter routes to and from and London and through Birmingham.”
Looking back at her career, she added: “Engineering is about problem-solving and that is something that has always appealed to me, no matter what the environment. It is a pleasure to work as part of teams providing trains which carry millions of passengers every year.
“I am a firm believer that everyone is different but everyone is equal, and I would absolutely encourage any young person – male or female – to consider an engineering career on the railway.”
West Midlands Trains managing director Julian Edwards said: “I am delighted to welcome Zena as our new engineering director at an exciting time for the company.
“Despite the challenges coronavirus is presenting to the rail industry and society, we know the £1 billion investment we are making in new trains, stations, depots and our people will make a huge difference to our customers.”