It’s official. Avanti West Coast’s ‘Trainbow’, 390 119, has been named Progress, and it’s now zooming up and down the West Coast Main Line. Following a month-long public vote which garnered over 1,500 entries, Progress has been crowned the winner, in part thanks to our very own campaign The Progress Train.
The winning entry, out of hundreds of submissions for the name, came from railway engineer Edward Hitchon Godfrey, who entered the competition after being inspired by our campaign. Alongside his entry for Progress, Edward shared a moving story about his own experiences as an LGBTQ+ person within the railway industry, and how he hoped the name would be “both a celebration of where we have got to as an industry and as a society, and a recognition that we’re not there yet”.
These sentiments echo our own thoughts behind the name Progress; that it is a name truly reflective of where the railway industry is with regards to LGBTQ+ diversity. As we said at the time, it’s a name that is as relevant today as it will be in a decade, and we look forward to seeing Progress out and about on the West Coast Main Line throughout that time.
390 119 came out with its new identity on 11 October – National Coming Out Day – operating between Manchester, London and Glasgow. On its return to London, members of The Progress Train team met the train at London Euston, including the campaign’s spearhead Charlotte Monroe. She shared an emotional thank you message on Twitter, paying tribute to everyone who got behind the campaign as well as the team at Avanti West Coast and winner Edward.
“I want to say thank you so much to everyone who got behind The Progress Train, shared photos, shared tweets, took the Progress Affirmation, and of course those who nominated the name too
“If you see Progress out and about, keep sharing, keep telling us all about it because it’s a landmark moment for the railways in general. Thank you so much to Avanti West Coast for making this happen because this really is incredible.”
However, our campaign doesn’t end here; indeed, it’s only the beginning. The easy bit was getting the name on the train: now, we need to make sure that the values of Progress infiltrate into every single part of the rail industry, and that anyone – no matter what their identity or background – feels included and accepted, and able to be their true self, without judgement or prejudice.
This has always been our aim with The Progress Train; a vehicle for real change across rail, for customers and colleagues alike and to inspire the next generation of railway family, as well as supporting those who are within it today. Without conversation, change cannot happen; without education, the industry cannot grow. We’re not going to change the world overnight, but it’s clear that Progress – and Trainbows more generally – are already changing the worlds of individuals.
A lot has been going on behind the scenes across the rail industry in recent years. From TfL’s efforts to use more inclusive language in customer communications, Network Rail’s highly visible contributions to LGBTQ+ History month and of course Avanti’s own Live Proud campaign (not to mention all of the other activities we’ve not listed) it’s clear that inclusivity and equality is high on the agenda. But is it enough?
Unfortunately, many of these efforts take a fragmented approach, often giving an incoherent message to the public, particularly where different operators overlap. A lack of consistency across the industry – which is still regularly seen as one organisation by the public – can give rise to the views that many of these efforts are nothing more than tokenism, without any lasting groundwork in place. Launching a Trainbow is all very well, but if when logging onto the onboard wifi you’re presented with a login page asking for a binary gendered title a lot of the goodwill quickly evaporates. The same is true of inclusive announcements; hearing “Ladies and Gentlemen” on one platform but “Hello everyone!” in the link passageway undoes all the good of the latter. Equally, as tempting as a good pun (we’re not sorry for the one above) might be, relegating people from the LGBTQ+ community into the butt of a joke can make them feel belittled and excluded.
We need to rethink how we approach these issues, to put together a consistent approach that’s relevant for everyone in rail, regardless of whether it’s a big player franchise or a small independent contractor. We’re still formulating our ideas of how this could be achieved, but we want to hear from you: send us your thoughts, your achievements or your experiences, good and bad, to firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation. We’d love to publish some of them here, both to showcase just how inclusive and diverse rail is, but also to spark discussions on where things can be improved, or to share good practice when an organisation get’s something spot on. Further along, we’d like to host a series of seminars to really hone in on the issues that matter, and how we can reflect our core values across the industry – watch this space on that.
The journey might only just be beginning, but we’re already making great Progress – and we’re pleased to have you on board with us.
We Believe In Progress.