Ciara Middlehurst

Supporting the success of diverse organisations

Continuing to celebrate the importance of International Women’s Day, and the vital role of women in rail freight, RFG is publishing its third article in a series of guest posts from Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS). In this article Ciara Middlehurst, NTS’s Commercial Director, discusses the commercial challenges and opportunities for rail freight.

It’s been a busy period for us as we established ourselves as NTS in April 2021 – our rail, shipping and logistics consultancy businesses were joined together as one transport organisation, part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) group. Despite the organisational changes that brought, we’ve remained focused on our customers in what is admittedly a challenging time for rail freight in the UK. Despite the challenges, we’re focused on creating a long-term future for our rail business and delivering for and retaining our customers is at the heart of that.

The importance of people for a strong and resilient team cannot be underestimated.

First and foremost, we’re a nuclear organisation so our priority continues to be centred on delivering safe, secure and reliable rail freight operations for the nuclear decommissioning sector. We cover the length and breadth of Britain delivering rail transport and associated services that meet the stringent safety and security demands of the nuclear industry. One of the reasons I love my job is the sheer diversity of the work we do. That includes working with our non-nuclear customers such as Network Rail, Tesco and John G Russell Ltd, keeping UK rail infrastructure safe and the shelves stocked across the country.

The nuclear renaissance, which has come about over the last couple of years in response to greater energy demands, means we’re well placed to focus on the commercial opportunities brought about by the UK’s new nuclear ambitions – while still delivering on our mission to support the clean-up mission across the NDA group. And continuing to grow with our key intermodal customers is also a focus. But the successes and ambitions of NTS could not be achieved without its people.

The importance of people for a strong and resilient team cannot be underestimated. Having the right people with the right skills in place at the right time is critical to achieving our business ambitions and delivering on our commitment to being a great place to work. It’s crucial we have a diverse mix of people to attract and encourage a healthy balance of skills, experience and fresh thinking. As sponsor of NTS’s Gender Balance Network, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have women in the rail industry. We all know that diverse organisations are more successful – there is greater diversity of thought, experience, ideas and innovation. It’s a subject very close to my heart having primarily worked in male-dominated industries for most of my career. That’s why the likes of International Women’s Day is so important in celebrating and challenging attitudes around women and, in this instance, women in the workplace. It’s an opportunity to re-group, remind ourselves how vital women are to this industry and all industries – while also being a time to debate, celebrate and encourage new generations into the sector.

It’s great to be part of an organisation that takes diversity and inclusion so seriously. NTS has made great strides over the last few years in ensuring the organisational culture is a healthy and supportive environment where everyone can perform to the best of their ability to get the best possible result. I’m proud and excited to be part of that organisational journey which in-turn will deliver an excellent service and new ways to innovate for our customers.