Running a local train on the Western Railway (WR) is no longer a man’s job.
At least not for Preeti Kumari, who will become the first woman to drive a suburban local train for the WR on Tuesday.
“The training has been good and I will get to run the first local train at 2.49pm,” said Kumari, mother to a 10-year-old girl. Kumari, who refused to reveal her age, joined the WR motormen’s training eight months ago. She was initially given academic training at WR’s several workshops and yards including ones at Mumbai Central and Kandivli. She also was given practical training over several months.
“We told her to accompany senior motormen to give her proper on-the-job training,” said a senior WR official requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The history graduate, who also has a diploma in electronics, joined the railways in August 2009. On October 11, Kumari, who is from Bihar, and two other motormen were asked to give tests and go through final training in front of senior WR officials. The WR will soon induct 46 new motormen. Once Kumari, whose husband works for the Indian Air Force, joins the fleet of motormen she will play the crucial role of running more than 1,200 services every day.
“We have to remain alert constantly, especially with the signalling system and at crossovers,” said Surekha Yadav, Asia’s first woman train driver who has been running engines on Central Railway’s long distance trains since 2000. “I am hopeful more women will join the fleet.”