Iarnród Éireann is launching its first external recruitment process for train drivers.  

The company is looking for 100 drivers over four years and says it is very keen to recruit women drivers.  

There are only four female train drivers out of a current total of 500 in Iarnród Éireann.

Drivers' salaries start at €45,000, going up to €57,000 on a ten-year scale.  

It says candidates must meet European Train Driver Licensing requirements, with a minimum of nine years full-time education and must be over the age of 20.

The application process will involve a number of stages, the company said.

Successful applicants will then undergo a 32-week training programme.

An Iarnród Éireann spokesperson has denied that there is a bias against women within the company.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Jane Cregan said they have tried "very hard" to internally recruit women to driving and craft working positions.

Ms Cregan said they have recently recruited female craft worker apprentices.

"Its something that we very much want to grow within our business, but unfortunately not very many women apply to take on these roles," she said.

Ms Cregan added that the company is looking for drivers externally for the first time due to expansion plans and scheduled retirements.

She said driving a train is a tough and responsible job, and can be a solitary role.

Gillian Clarke, one of the four female train drivers working for Iarnród Éireann, said she started working with the company in customer services and progressed to become a driver.

"There's lots of things you have to keep very focused on - what size train you're driving, the weather conditions on that day - because they all play a part in how well you perform and how well the train performs really," she said.