It’s a brand-new year – time to turn the page and make the changes you’ve been putting off for far too long. If a new location and an exciting new role are on your agenda, Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) is seeking UK talent.
With a growing number of rail projects underway, there’s never been a better time to make the move to Australia, especially if you’re looking for career advancement and job satisfaction. With a population of just 25 million, the pool from which the country can draw experienced staff is small, so the major rail organisations are eager to attract professionals from elsewhere. MTM is one of the companies currently recruiting top talent.
MTM serves Melbourne’s extensive metro system, keeping a population of five million on the move. The company runs 15 lines (along with an events-only line to Flemington Racecourse) operated by 220 six-car trains running on 600 miles of track and serving 219 stations. It has operated the franchise since November 2009, and its contract has been extended until 2024.
MTM currently has several projects underway. One example is the twin-bore Melbourne Metro Tunnel which will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne/Pakenham in the southeast. The two new 5.6-mile tunnels will free up Melbourne’s biggest bottleneck and enable 39,000 more passengers to use the rail system during peak periods.
The company is also working on A$10 billion development to improve rail links between Melbourne and the airport which serves it. The project will connect the airport with the city’s central business district (CBD) and involves laying approximately 13km of track between Melbourne Airport and Sunshine Station in Melbourne’s west. The line will lead from the airport along a six-kilometre viaduct to Sunshine, and then onto the Metro Tunnel and into the heart of the CBD. Lisa Hogben, Package Director – Melbourne Airport Rail (MAR), joined MTM in February 2021, travelling from the UK to help drive the scheme along.
“My sections of the project are the airport station and the viaduct,” says Lisa. “I work with our Rail Projects Victoria client counterparts to deliver MTM’s role in the project. This includes development of requirements, reviews and risk assessments, planning and preparation for delivery and operations, and building a high-performing and knowledgeable team.”
Lisa enjoyed a varied career in rail prior to relocating, with positions at Transport for London, London Underground, Network Rail, and High Speed 2 and the Nichols Group. A move to Melbourne wasn’t part of Lisa’s grand plan, but she saw a great opportunity and went for it.
“It was about opportunity and adventure – I’ve always had a bit of a ‘why not’ attitude,” she says. “One of my UK super bosses, Jamie Burn, had taken a role as a Project Director at MTM and encouraged me to consider a career at MTM. I am at that stage of my career where I want to work with people who have values and behaviours that I respect and admire, and the same goes for organisations. I got a very good feeling about Metro Trains Melbourne and how they operate, and that feeling has proven to be well-founded.”
Guidance and support
MTM is an inclusive and safety-focused organisation and prides itself on its team of honest, high performing professionals. UK rail staff who take the leap will join an organisation that is a global leader in its field. The company is well known for promoting a strong work/life balance and has robust policies on diversity, wellness, and mental health. It also works hard to make the relocation process as smooth and seamless as possible.
“MTM has an international relocation package for you and your immediate family,” says Lisa. “The company will guide you through all of your visa admin, travel needs, and the shipment of your belongings. I moved from a London lockdown basically into a Melbourne one, and MTM helped me prepare for hotel quarantine and the various permits required at that time. They also provide temporary accommodation which really takes the stress out of relocation, giving you time to search for your permanent home. From the very point of accepting the job, to setting up a new home in Australia, it has been a great experience.
“Once I was in post, MTM’s internal community took over – there’s no lack of people to ask if you need help. I now run a Team’s channel to which all new expats are added and it’s kind of an informal Q&A forum for newcomers. MTM really lives it values in terms of providing well-being support. For expats this can focus on the difficulties of relocating to another country, life admin, forms and tax and insurances, moving house, leaving your friends, and so on. I can’t fault the help and support I’ve received from the MTM community.”
Keeping Melbourne’s population moving requires skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced individuals. People power isn’t a resource that Australia’s rail industry has in abundance and UK expats are in a unique position to take advantage of the country’s need for overseas professionals.
“You don’t have a culture shock when you arrive here,” says Lisa. “There’s no language barrier and you’ll work on projects that are familiar in scope, setup and process. Your knowledge and an experience are really valuable here and the fresh perspective you bring is so welcome.”
Crucially, she adds, you shouldn’t let the fear of change hold you back. “Often, people avoid this sort of move because they’re worried about the upheaval,” she says, “but I think we underestimate the amount of change we can tolerate, the amount of flexibility we can build into our lives, and how much we can thrive when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone”.
“Own a home? Rent it out. Loads of stuff? Ship it over. Worried about relocating your children? They’re often more resilient than we give them credit for. I would definitely say ‘give it a go.’ Whether you’re married with kids or single, and if you’re in your in twenties, thirties, or your sixties, the opportunity is too great to ignore.”
Level the playing field
Diversity, equality, and inclusion is a major focus for Lisa and, in November last year, she was appointed to the Board of Directors at the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Addressing attitudes towards women in the rail industry, as well as breaking down the barriers they face, is a major focus for her. She’s eager to attract more women to the rail family and keen to encourage them to make the leap she took last year.
“It’s harder for women, certainly at a senior level and at a certain age, to make this kind of move, because you feel like you should be settling down and doing what society deems as ‘sensible things’ (i.e., not moving across the globe). It can seem like you’re facing a choice between work and starting or supporting a family.
“If starting a family is something you want in your future, it can feel counter-intuitive to move 10,000 miles away from your family and friends, and I think these things run through the minds of women more than they do for men. They certainly did for me.”
“S,o what I would say to women facing a similar dilemma, is remember, it doesn’t have to be forever. You can bring your family here and start a new life if you want to, or stay a few years and head home. I think we need to shake off that societal stereotype about what we ‘should’ be doing and do what makes us happy!
Living and working in Australia is an amazing experience for however long you choose to live it.”
MTM is currently targeting engineers of the following disciplines: Signalling (all types); Testing and Commissioning; Design Engineers; and Design Review Engineers. If you’re eager to apply your knowledge and experience to an exciting project in a superb location, then MTM wants to hear from you.
“There is a world of opportunity here to explore” says Lisa. “Don’t rule Australia out because you think it’s too far – it’s only a day away.”
For more information on available opportunities visit www.mtm-careers.com.