Meet Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain: Empowering innovation in rail


Meet Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain: Empowering innovation in rail

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Railways have long been vital to connecting people and communities. Behind the scenes, there’s a world of innovation driving the industry forward. One person at the forefront of this movement is Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, the Innovation Manager at East West Rail and self-described ‘Queen of the Railways’. Routes into Rail recently spoke to Daisy about her career in rail and why she’s excited to be part of the industry’s future.


“I got the job and just went from there”

It wasn’t Daisy’s plan to work in rail – after university, she trained to be a teacher. “After about a year I realised teaching wasn’t for me. I think we’ve got to be honest when we talk about career paths that the one that you pick first isn’t necessarily the perfect one.”

When she was looking for jobs, Daisy found a listing for a role with Community Rail as an Education Officer.

“Community rail is an amazing national movement. They connect local communities to their stations, to their routes, they help people access rail, they run inclusion programmes and education programmes. I saw a listing and went to the interview not quite knowing what the role was. I got the job and just went from there.

“About six months in I realised that everything had clicked. I knew from that point that I was going to be in rail forever, or certainly transport forever.”

During her three years at Community Rail Lancashire, Daisy led numerous programs – many focused on young women and disabled individuals. She also won the National Autistic Society Best Community Project Award for Autism Friendly Railway Line work that she pioneered, which was the first in the UK.


“It was amazing working on multi-million-pound government competitions”

Daisy then decided she wanted more experience of the innovative and technological side of the industry, so she applied for a job at Innovate UK as their Rail Knowledge Transfer Manager. The role investigated all the innovations, technologies, products and services that the supply chain delivers in rail.

“It was a major learning curve for me, but it was really, really interesting. It was amazing to work on flagship, multi-million-pound government competitions.”

Looking for a new experience, Daisy took on her current role as the Innovation Manager at East West Rail. The innovation team is a team of two whose function is to be “generalist experts”, as Daisy puts it, working across various departments to identify opportunities for innovation.

“We look at everything from engineering and construction to digital and inclusion,” Daisy explains. “Our aim is to make the railway cheaper, lower carbon and easier to deliver, ensuring the best value for the taxpayer.”


“We have to stand up and speak out, otherwise we won’t make any progress”

Daisy’s dedication to her career extends beyond her workplace. She actively maintains a strong presence on social media and in rail publications.

“Working in innovation, I need to be across the industry as much as possible. By being active and present, people can come to me with their ideas, which is ultimately what I want.”

Moreover, Daisy believes in the importance of representation, especially as a woman in the industry.

“We know that we’ve got a problem with recruiting and retaining women. We know that we’ve got issues in terms of balance across all levels of the industry. So, for me, it’s really important to have a visible presence as well, to provide that different voice, different perspective.

“Thinking about the future of rail is a key part of this – being visible and talking about what different groups need from rail; what women need from rail, what people with disabilities need from rail, people of different races and faiths, people from the LGBT+ community, how we can keep people safe on rail. Ultimately, we’ve got to have people standing up and talking out about it, otherwise we won’t make any progress.”


“There’s no end to opportunities in rail”

We talked to Daisy about why she would recommend a career in rail.

“There is no end of opportunities in rail, every job that exists outside rail exists in rail in some form. We have creative jobs, we have artistic jobs, we have STEM jobs, marketing jobs, managerial jobs, community jobs. If you want a career that can go in any direction, transport and rail is a perfect industry.”

She speaks passionately about the power of transport to be transformative for communities. Better rail links can transform people’s social lives and their education and employment opportunities; they can reduce loneliness and increase health outcomes.

“We can implement transport changes in a community and completely transform the way that people live and work for the better. That’s one of my big drivers.”

As the industry transitions to Great British Railways, Daisy sees an opportunity for transformation and inclusivity. “We are shaping the industry for many decades to come. It’s really exciting to be part of an enormous industry shift like Great British Railways.”

And Daisy’s favourite rail journey? “It’s the Pendolino down the West Coast. So, from either Liverpool to London or vice versa. Probably London to Liverpool because that means I’m going home. But specifically, when I’m on the Pendolino, the best seat is A21. It’s the only private table outside of first class on the train.

“It’s a bit of a design quirk. I think because the carriage has the driver’s cab at the other end, there’s reduced space and so it has two little private tables. It’s just nice to have that table space and to be able to spread out a bit, go and get some snacks from the café and sit there and have a bit of a train picnic, or a ‘tricnic’ as I like to call it!

Visit Daisy’s LinkedIn and Twitter.