Of the about 99,000 women employed by the Railways, a couple of thousands work in the engineering, mechanical and electrical departments. Some of these women who are working as track maintainers and assistant loco pilots will now have the option to apply for a change of job category if they so wish. In other words, the Ministry of Railways may begin considering their application for change of role.
This will be a big relief to those who have been finding the work too demanding or taxing, especially during pregnancy. Women find it very challenging to discharge their duties given the limited facilities and the nature of job that may require them to sit for long hours at a stretch. Sometimes, they are unable to even use the washroom since the stoppage at stations is usually for just a few minutes.
Not only are the locomotive cabins very small and constricted, the loco pilots are often expected to be on duty for six hours at a stretch in express trains and nine hours in case of freight trains.
The trade unions have been trying to draw the attention of the Ministry to the challenges that women in these jobs have to face.
All the general managers of all zonal railways have been instructed by the Railway Board to give details about the number of women working as track maintainers and assistant loco who had sought a job category switch. They will then be given a one-time option to change their category.