Dianne Banks

“Engineering isn’t just about numbers; it’s really about people and innovation.”
Woman standing in front of tram.
Woman standing in front of tram.

Head of Engineering, Civil and Structural Systems, Yarra Trams

Background: Civil Engineering and Business Administration

As a child I loved solving problems. I remember constructing a cubby house to make a rabbit hutch. For me, it was about using the resources you had to resolve a problem within a defined period.

I’m the oldest of three girls. My sister and I both became engineers. The sister in the middle is a maths and science teacher. So there is a definite thread there. Our parents were very supportive of us going into our chosen fields.

There are five heads of engineering at Yarra Trams. I’m the only woman among the five.

Yarra Trams encourages new ideas and it’s employing more women across all areas of the business. There is a good female cohort. It’s a collaborative culture. I love the inclusive mindset. 

Trams run on what is described as light rail. Part of the complexity of my job arises from the simple reason that I work on light rail in Melbourne, one of the few cities in the world where over 75 per cent of the network is integrated with the road, sharing space with cars and pedestrians. It makes for a logistical challenge.

At the moment I’m among those providing the technical assurance and design authority for civil and structural engineering works surrounding the new maintenance depot in Maidstone, in the western suburbs. The impetus for the project is the introduction of G-Class trams, another large project, which is due for completion in 2025.

I try to improve the passenger experience, by attending to details such as the height of platforms at tram stops, the location of tram stops, current State and Federal legislation, and linking up trams services with those of buses and trains. These parameters all need to be considered to improve transport accessibility for projects such as the Box Hill Terminus.

Engineering isn’t just about numbers; it’s really about people and innovation. On any given day, I liaise with people all over the public and private spheres. I deal with technology firms and people at the forefront of innovation. All to make a great experience for our passengers and enable operational efficiency. This aligns with current and future network requirements to service Melbourne now and into the future.

In 2001, I graduated with a double degree in civil engineering and business administration. I started my career as a VicRoads Graduate Engineer before going into private consultancy. Among the biggest tasks during this time was transport modelling the changes to the suburb of Dandenong with the opening of EastLink.

The construction of EastLink diverted traffic away from the south-eastern suburbs’ traditional route along the Princes Highway. I helped to redesign the suburb’s commercial hub to become more pedestrian-friendly, with a range of facilities to encourage visitors.

Such a project requires consultation between multiple bodies.

My main task now is ensuring that Keolis Downer, the operator of Yarra Trams, delivers safe and reliable tram services to the people of Melbourne. Through my work, I ensure that the design, construction, and maintenance is considered within the operating environment.

I will regard my role as successful if it continues to serve the public 40 years down the track, or longer.