Hans Ekonje, a TransPennine Express (TPE) Driver Instructor based in Manchester has had his story celebrated as TPE continued its first Week of Inclusion.

Manchester-based Train Driver Instructor celebrated during TPE Week of Inclusion

A TransPennine Express (TPE) Driver Instructor based in Manchester has had their story celebrated as TPE continued its first Week of Inclusion.

Hans Ekonje detailed his inspiring story in a video as TPE continued its Week of Inclusion which has seen the company celebrate diversity and embrace the individuality of both its employees and customers.

Hans, who is also ethnic minorities representative for ASLEF, was shocked to find that he was the only black driver in his depot when he first started working for TPE.

TPE is now working with Hans to help progress his career and to trial new ways of recruiting from minority backgrounds.

Hans said: “I remember when I first walked into the mess room at my depot and realised, I was the only black driver. Since that moment, I have worked with TPE to help encourage more diversity.

“We have made some fantastic progress but there is still more work to do and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Harriet Harbidge, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at TPE, said: “We’re so excited to celebrate our first ever ‘Week of Inclusion’ and to highlight some of the incredible colleagues we have, such as Hans, who make a real difference to TPE.

In addition to recruiting more diverse employees, TPE is also committed to helping ethnically diverse colleagues progress their careers in the business and in the wider industry. As part of this process, TPE operates two development programmes aimed solely at ethnic minority staff.

The Reach Up and Reach Forward programmes are focused on giving staff from ethnic minority backgrounds the opportunity to gain management roles, and managers to progress to senior management positions.

Hans is just one of a number of colleagues who are being highlighted this ‘TPE Week of Inclusion’.

Hans’ success story comes hot on the heels of the unveiling of TPE’s Nova 1 ‘Unity’ train, featuring the most up to date Pride Progress Flag, which is now set to travel throughout the North and into Scotland, becoming a beacon of hope for the millions of diverse communities TPE serves.

Harriet added: “Launching the ‘Unity Train’ was a perfect way to kickstart the week. Speaking to our LGBTQ+ network group we know how important it is to our colleagues and the communities we serve, that this train is now in service.”

To mark the week, TPE also announced a partnership with The Proud Trust, an LGBT+ youth charity empowering young people to be proud of who they are.

Lisa Harvey Nebil, CEO of The Proud Trust, said: “Seeing the ‘Unity Train’ in all its glory fills myself and our team with huge pride and we can’t wait for the LGBT+ community to see the train as it travels throughout the North.

“We’ve already received fantastic support from TPE and we’re looking forward to doing more inspiring work together.”

Notes to editors

To download a video detailing Hans story click here: TransPennine Express - Han’s story on Vimeo