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After her first run driving a train on the Albury line, Rebecca Blanks felt a fire. Not in her belly, but of all places, her breasts.
“It’s a savage line to drive on, you get thrown around in the loco but this was beyond ridiculous," she said.
V/Line driver Rebecca Blanks suffered significant damage to her breasts from the repetitive strain of driving trains on uneven tracks.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
"My body felt fine, but my boobs were on fire,” Ms Blanks recalls of the 2011 incident.
When the V/Line driver, then aged in her 40s, returned to Melbourne after the two-day journey on the notorious North-East line she reported the pain to her managers.
The North-East line is described by many in the industry as a goat track due to its poor condition. Many male drivers have complained of back and neck pain caused by the train being jolted around on uneven tracks, a process known as rough riding.
But with so few of V/Line's drivers and managers being female, the problem of breast pain is less known.
The closest thing she could compare her pain to was mastitis – a painful inflammation of the breast common among breastfeeding women.
Most of her colleagues were men and didn't understand and when Ms Blanks notified her superiors of the pain, she said they grew uncomfortable.
“They were embarrassed to talk to me about it,” she said.
After lodging a complaint, Ms Blanks continued driving along the route. On the advice of a female HR representative, she started wearing a compression bra and that helped, for a short time.
But by 2014, she was in agony.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au