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Ladies ‘gang’ from northeast breaks glass ceiling in Indian Railways

A team of 20 women are the first all-women team to be in charge of technical maintenance of coaches.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 13:34 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Indian Railways,Northeast Frontier Railways,All-women gang
Newly trained members of an all-women coach maintenance team of the Indian Railways at the pit lines in Guwahati. (Northeast Frontier Railways)

The Indian Railways, the world’s fourth-largest rail network, never had a group of women handling the technical task of maintaining coaches that ensures smooth functioning of trains in its 165-year history.

But that’s going to change on International Women’s Day on Thursday when 20 women from the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will become the first all-women gang responsible for the job.

Maintenance work of coaches in pit lines, always done by groups called gangs, has predominantly been a male domain. Pit lines are used for inspection and routine maintenance work on undercarriage parts.

“I have been involved in the maintenance of coaches for 12 years now. All these while, I have worked with men in groups. It feels wonderful to be part of an all-women team and to know that we are the first,” said Maituli Rajbongshi.

Twenty women will be part of the railways’ first all-women technical team responsible for maintenance of coaches. (Northeast Frontier Railways)

Her colleague Minku Das, who has been working with the railways for eight years, feels elated at the responsibility and is happy to be part of a team that is breaking the glass ceiling.

The coach maintenance depot at Guwahati has six pit lines where the maintenance of around 1,300 coaches are performed by nearly 1,000 technicians — of which 200 are women.

“These ladies have been involved in ancillary maintenance works like curtain repair, painting of signage etc with male counterparts. But as a pilot project, 20 of them were selected and provided training to be part of an all-women gang,” spokesperson of the NFR Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.

The selected women were given theoretical and practical training in pit lines for over three weeks with a special focus on safety checking measures.

“More than empowering women, the project was taken up because it is convenient for these women to be part of an all-women team. To start to they will work day shifts. If the project is a success, NFR plans to introduce for such all-women teams,” said Sharma.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 13:34 IST