Beauty queen Arshdeep Kaur quit her teaching job to become a train driver.
The 27-year-old says it's 'one of the best decisions' she has made ever made.
Ms Kaur started her training in February and is on track to qualify in March 2021.
She believes it's time for women to start looking beyond obvious career choices.
A beauty queen who quit her teaching job to become a train driver says it's 'one of the best decisions' she has ever made.
Arshdeep Kaur, a New South Wales state finalist in the 2019 Miss World Australia pageant, was applying for lecturing positions at TAFEs and universities in February when she saw an ad for Sydney Trains.
The 27-year-old from Penrith, 50 kilometres west of the CBD, had grown up around colossal trucks thanks to her father's haulage business, but never in her 'wildest dreams' considered a career in the transport industry.
Eager for change, Ms Kaur applied for the trainee driver program and is now on track to qualify in March 2021 - a move she says has brought her greater fulfillment than she ever imagined.
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'People are often surprised when I tell them I'm a train driver, but Sydney Trains is working very hard to break gender stereotypes,' Ms Kaur told it Australia.
Asked about the challenges of working in a historically male-dominated industry, she revealed those norms have already been turned on their head.
Of the nine people in Ms Kaur's trainee group, there are five women and four men who she calls 'the most wonderful and intelligent people' from a variety of professional backgrounds.
It's the first time in history that more than half of trainee drivers are women.
In 2016, women made up just 8 percent of qualified Sydney Train drivers and 4.8 percent of driver trainees.
Today there are 78 percent more female trainees and 18 percent more qualified female train drivers than there were four years ago.
'In my experience, Sydney Trains has been very welcoming towards young women,' Ms Kaur said.
'All of our trainers, managers, supervisors and colleagues are very supportive. They provide insights into this profession with their years of experience.'
Her family are equally encouraging.
'Dad is really proud but he's not surprised,' she said.
'Throughout my childhood my parents always taught us that men and women are equal and nothing is impossible if you have good intentions and work hard for it.'
A typical day starts with 'signing on' and preparing the trains for their daily routes, then driving from one station to the next, ensuring the journey is smooth, timely and safe for all passengers.
Ms Kaur appreciates the vital role the rail industry plays in Australia's economy and loves the diverse workplace at Sydney Trains, which employs people from a plethora of backgrounds and cultures.
But the most rewarding part of her newfound career is something far sweeter.
'My personal favourite is when little kids wave at me while we are passing through,' she said.
'I find it so fulfilling to serve my community and keep Sydney moving.'
Still, it's not always easy. Ms Kaur sometimes faces fatalities and 'near misses' along her routes which takes a heavy psychological toll.
'It can affect your emotional well-being, [but] fortunately we are offered good support,' she said.
Ms Kaur believes women 'need to start thinking outside the box' by considering careers beyond obvious choices like nursing, teaching and cosmetics which have always been female-dominated.
'Society creates these walls of social norms and we need to start breaking them,' she said.'
'There are grandmothers, mothers, models and women of colour all working in the rail industry. It's not untouchable and nothing is impossible if you fully commit to it.'