The first air-conditioned suburban train on Central Railway (CR) is set to be piloted by a motorwoman on its inaugural run early next year. The two motorwomen of CR, Mumtaz Kazi and Manisha Mhaske, will undergo training over the next month.
Other women loco pilots on CR’s long-distance trains will also be reviewed for the position, with the CR management deciding that the inaugural run of the long-awaited service would make a statement on gender parity.
The 12-coach AC local with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) electronics, which reached Mumbai Monday, will also undergo minor modifications. CCTV cameras will be installed in the demarcated ladies’ coach before its induction, officials said. A batch of 100 CR personnel have been trained by Western Railway (WR) to handle any situation that may arise on-board the train, they said.
Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel will be deployed at stations outside the ladies’ coach for passenger security.
Divisional railway manager of CR, Shalabh Goel, who visited Kurla car shed, where the AC local is currently stationed, on Tuesday said, “Our first AC local will be piloted by our motorwomen, which is a proud moment for us. In 1925, our first train powered by electricity had started from Kurla carshed, and now we’ll have our AC local from here as well.”
Kazi, who has been a motorwoman for 28 years, says it will be a proud moment for her if she is selected for the job. “I have piloted all types of trains, from AC-DC rakes to AC, and even Siemens and Bombardier rakes,” she said. “…It will be a delight to serve my department. We have AC cabs in the new trains, but it will be a different experience to run a train that is completely air-conditioned.”
Mhaske, meanwhile, said she was looking forward to using the new technology. Mhaske has been a loco pilot for 17 years, and was promoted to the post of a motorwoman four months ago.
She has been piloting the CSMT-Panvel trains on the CR’s harbour line. She told The Indian Express, “As loco pilots, we would get new technology in diesel locomotives. The AC train is a new technology…we motorwomen also can’t wait to try our hand at it.”
The CR had also operated the Deccan Queen with an all-women crew on March 8, 2018, to mark International Women’s Day. Surekha Yadav was deployed as loco pilot and Trusha Joshi as her assistant. The electrician, ticket checkers and security personnel were all women as well.
Chief PRO Shivaji Sutar said, “We have two motorwomen and the AC train will have a minimum of eight to 10 services during the course of the day. It might not be possible to have all services run by motorwomen, but the first inaugural service will definitely be by a woman.”