JR’s first motorwoman at freight train controls> The Japan Railway group’s first female locomotive engineer, Maki Ishimura, 23, climbed into the driver’s seat early Oct. 27 aboard a train at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Freight Terminal and prepared to depart for the Kawasaki Freight Station in Kanagawa Prefecture.

It was her first stint at the controls as a recently qualified train driver. She received an operator’s license from the Transport Ministry on Oct. 24.

Ishimura, who works for Japan Freight Railway Co., said she hopes to be the kind of driver children wave to from the sides of the track and people can rely on to ship their cargo. Ishimura graduated from Hosei University’s engineering department and entered the railway last April.

After a stint in the sales department, she entered a driver preparation program in November and began an apprenticeship last March before taking the exam for drivers. This year she will work with an experienced driver at her side, and beginning next January will drive solo.

Private lines including the Izukyu Line in Shizuoka and the Yukarigaoka Line in Chiba employ a total of seven female drivers, as do streetcars in Tokyo, Okayama, Kumamoto and Kagoshima.

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