‘Fantastic role model’: Northern employee who created game-changing app after joining as a graduate shortlisted for award

A “fantastic role model”, who created an app which could revolutionise the way train cleaning crews across the country work shortly after he joined Northern as a graduate, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Sebastian Chromiak, a 26-year-old who lives in Didsbury, is one of eight finalists in the running for the Young Rail Professional of the Year award.

At a ceremony next month, hosted by the not-for-profit organisation Young Rail Professionals, the award will be presented to the nominee deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the rail industry over the last 12 months.

Sebastian was promoted to Train Presentation Regional Manager for Northern’s East Region last summer and he currently manages a team of around 200 operatives who ensure services are clean for customers.

After joining the company as a graduate in 2022, he developed an industry-leading app which provides staff with a real-time record of when trains were last cleaned so they can efficiently prioritise those which are most in need of attention.

He has also been praised by colleagues for his work on a series of complex engineering and maintenance projects, his ability to build productive working relationships and his enthusiasm and commitment.

“It was a big surprise to be nominated and it’s nice to be recognised,” said Sebastian.

“Looking at the nominees, there’s no one else from a train operating company so it’s good to represent one. It puts us on the map, so it’s nice from that perspective.”

Sebastian said making the step up to management last year was “a really good learning experience” and he has been working hard to keep his large team and Northern’s customers happy.

“Since Covid, there has probably been a step change in what customers expect,” he said.

“It’s also quite challenging when you’ve got to ensure you deliver the same level of performance with regards to customer satisfaction while going through a major piece of transformation work within engineering, which is completely changing our operating model, particularly at our train care centres.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s definitely enjoyable and it keeps the head ticking.”

Richard Holt, head of train presentation at Northern, said: “We’re delighted to see Seb has been recognised for his hard work and dedication by being shortlisted for this award.

“He is a fantastic role model for our new graduates, showing what they can achieve in a short period of time.”

Sebastian grew up in Cumbria and gained a degree in Economics from the University of Manchester before completing a masters in Railway Operations, Management and Policy at the University of Leeds in 2022.

The Young Rail Professionals awards ceremony will be held in London on Thursday, 14 March.

The other nominees for the Young Rail Professional of the Year award are Aishah Latif (AtkinsRealis), Asher Thomas (Network Rail), Catherine Baker (Mott MacDonald), Conor Murrells (GBRTT), Henda Grion (Siemens Mobility), Lucy Davison (Systra) and Mario Ramos Garcia (AEGIS Engineering).

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