Southeastern’s first female train driver at the Grove Park depot in Lewisham has been appointed MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2023.

Sonia Maulson, Southeastern’s General Manager for the North and former train driver at the Grove Park depot in Lewisham, has been commended for her work over her 30-year career with the train company since starting in 1992.

Since then Sonia has worked in a number of roles within the company and is now General Manager for the Northern part of Southeastern’s network, which includes their Highspeed and Metro services.

The MBE acknowledges her work during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as her contributions during “Operation London Bridge” following the mourning period of the late HM Queen Elizabeth II.

According to Southeastern, Sonia has earned the nickname “Queen of the North” by staff on account of her current role as a General Manager for the Northern area of Southeastern.

David Wornham, Southeastern’s Passenger Services Director, said: “We are so proud of Sonia and this enormously special achievement.

“Everyone on the railway works incredibly hard to support our customers and each other and Sonia is absolutely central to making that happen.

“We are so happy to celebrate this honour from His Majesty for our very own ‘Queen of the North'."

The nomination highlighted Sonia’s work supporting passengers commuting to and from Central London during the mourning period of Queen Elizabeth II, which saw over three million people using the rail network during that time.

However, Southeastern has said that the award also recognised Sonia’s “kindness” and support to colleagues and customers during her 30-year career.

This year marks the first King’s Birthday Honours List for the newly coronated HM King Charles III.

Speaking on his wife's success, Sonia's husband Gary Maulson, also a railway employee, said: “I cannot stress enough how proud I am of Sonia and of what she has achieved throughout her railway career.

“She always gives 100% to everything she does.

“She so deserves this recognition.

“She is a star that is worthy of all the plaudits that come from such an award. I and the whole family are just so proud.”

Steve White, Southeastern’s Managing Director, described Sonia’s recent appointment as MBE as “a fitting recognition” of her work since she began her career, and added that Southeastern were “thrilled” for her success.

Steve White, Southeastern’s Managing Director said: “Sonia’s appointment as MBE is totally fitting recognition of the enormous contribution she makes to our industry and its customers and by extension to public service in our community. She is humble, kind to her team and our customers and driven by an unwavering sense of public duty.

“We are thrilled she has been honoured in this way.”