There is a reason why the group of technicians, who inspect and carry forth the maintenance work of coaches in pit lines, are called gangmen.
A domain that has been handled by men throughout the 165-year history of Indian Railways, it is highly unlikely that you will find a woman being entrusted with the same responsibility.
However, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) centred in Guwahati, has broken the glass ceiling by deploying the country’s first ever all-women gang for the railway coach and pit line maintenance.
This group of 20 women, who had previously worked as the lone women technicians in groups of gangmen, was formalised yesterday, which also happened to be International Women’s Day.
“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 to Hindustan Times.
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With six pit lines and 1,300 coaches, the coach maintenance depot at Guwahati is managed by a workforce of about 1,000 technicians, out of which 200 are women.
Each of the selected women partook in theoretical and practical training on pit lines that rendered intensive emphasis on safety checking measures over a period of three weeks.
Previously involved in ancillary maintenance works like curtain repair and painting of the signage, they will now work on more technical areas like their male counterparts through the pilot project.
“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 with, they will work day shifts. If the project is a success, NFR plans to introduce more such all-women teams,” said Pranav Jyoti Sharma, the spokesperson of NFR.