It’s not just the much-publicized jubilant railway motor woman that represents women on the railways in Mumbai, but this is the story of how the entire suburban railway network of Mumbai the lifeline of the city that ferries 7.5 million passengers every single day is maintained, planned, operated, run and repaired by women.
The Western Railway has come out with an eight minute film taking you through the backstage operations of the entire railway network on how every aspect of it is handled by the fairer sex, starting from the visually impaired announcer Neeta Tondwalkar, who announces that a ladies special train is set to arrive. The camera then moves to Preeti Kumari, Western Railway’s first motor woman.
“I ferry more than 6,000 commuters in a single journey and my motto is safe and timely journey timely, I am proud to be the only motor woman in the 400 staff of motorman on WR here. Commuters, particularly lady commuters,a re very happy to see me in the driving cab and walk up to me to congratulate. It is an immense sense of responsibility too,” she says.
Then there is Bharathi Rajveer, senior station manager at Mira Road, who is seen operating a signaling panel and change tracks to guide incoming and outgoing trains at the station. “I am a manager not just in my home, but here too. Like I have the responsibility of everything at my home, it is my responsibility to look at all aspects here from train operations to cleanliness at the station,” she explains.
Says Archana Sangurle, junior engineer (signalling), “Like the suburban railway is the lifeline of Mumbai, our signaling department is the lifeline of the suburban railway and I am proud to be associated with this department.”
The Western Railway is not just responsible for running first women’s special local train but also runs Surakshini woman ticket checking and police squad.
When the “tired” train goes back to the maintenance yard at Mumbai Central, there are women staff who grease and oil it to make it ready for the next day’s run. The women operated railway was also till recently managed at the top by a woman with Soumya Mathur, the additional divisional railway manager, at Mumbai Central. “Women on Western Railway are not confined to any one kind of occupation, but are at every possible post in electrical, mechanical, signalling and traffic which makes the difference,” says Rekha Yadav, senior divisional personnel officer.
“We have provided crèche, ladies changing rooms, separate lunch and tiffin rooms etc,” she adds.
Then there are women doctors and medical staff at the railway hospital, women at the workshop who do various kinds o jobs and women who do the high-pressure jobs of keeping the railway timetable on the track.