Thirty-four-year-old Preeti Kumari had just entered the motorman’s cabin in time to drive the 2.29 pm slow train from Churchgate to Borivli but the train was delayed.
Not because of a technical glitch but because people surrounded the cabin to see and congratulate Kumari, the first woman drive a suburban local train on the Western Railway.
After three to four minutes of shaking hands with passengers, Kumari got a chance to live her dream as she led the train out of the station while the crowd on the platform cheered her on.
“It is a big responsibility as well as great way to serve people for whom suburban trains are a lifeline,” Kumari said.
She tried hard to focus as photographers rushed to her cabin to take pictures of her. Some photographers accidentally pressed the horn a couple of times, prompting railway police officers to ask them to leave the cabin.
Once on the tracks, it was a regular day. Kumari got a taste of how busy the suburban lines are on her first day at work. “The train got delayed at Dadar because there was bunching of trains,” she said.
It took her an hour and 10 minutes, instead of the usual 70 minutes, to reach Borivli.
The return journey was smooth.
“I ensured that the train moved smoothly at signals and crossovers,” Kumari said.
She had two senior motormen and a railway police guard with her to give her the support she needed.
Kumari returned to Churchgate station at 4.30 pm, relieved that it had been a problem-free day. She signed off and started her journey home.
Starting Wednesday, she will run six trips of the train on the suburban section like other motormen.
A graduate in history, Kumari has a diploma in electronic engineering. Mother to a 10-year-old girl, she joined the Western Railway a year ago.
Kumari began the strenuous motormen’s training in August 2009 with 43 colleagues.