GUWAHATI: Twenty women have ‘ganged up’ in Guwahati for maintenance of railway coaches, the first time that females have come forward for the job in the history of Indian Railways.
After introducing all-women railway stations at the western tip of the country, the Railways have put together an all-women coach maintenance team in the eastern end of the country.
A 20-member gang has been trained for coach maintenance at Guwahati and will be deployed at the pit line at Guwahati, under Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), from Thursday, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
Chief public relations officer of NFR. PJ Sharma said, “While there were all-women railway stations under Indian Railways, it is the first time that an exclusive technical team of women personnel has been formed.”
“Coach maintenance deals with safety of the train and its passengers and safety is the top priority for the Railways. The safety certificate is given by the coach maintenance team and this has put an important responsibility on the shoulders of this first-ever all-women maintenance gang,” he added.
Elaborating on the matter, senior coaching depot officer, Coach Maintenance Depot, Guwahati, Kapil Jambhulkar said, “Earlier, a handful of women were engaged in the maintenance job and their role was confined to ancillary works. But with increasing pressure of work and insufficient increase in man-power, we decided to train the women staff for the maintenance job also.”
There are nearly 1500 technicians of various ranks under the Guwahati Coach Maintenance Depot, of which 120-130 are women, and the first batch of 20 all-women maintenance gang has been drawn from them.
The senior-most woman in the team has just eight months left before attaining age of superannuation, while the youngest is 30-year-old.
The idea was first floated in January this year and a month-long training was conducted in February.
Jambhulkar further said, “This is a very rigourous job. We have the maintenance gangs working in three shifts of eight hours each and initially, the all-women team will work in the day shift.”
It takes an entire shift to clear a single rake or train, comprising 21-24 coaches and running to over half-an-kilometre in length at the pit line.The women technicians sounded confident of carrying out their responsibilities.
Rita Devi, a member of the new gang, said, “I am happy to be a part of this team. We are technically trained personnel and we are glad that we have more responsibility now.”