Corona Warriors: Railway Women are 'Steering' Mumbai Trains for Essential Staff amid Covid-19

Two motorwomen of Central Railway (CR) are among a battery of women who are playing a crucial role in steering suburban trains to discharge the responsibility of ferrying essential staffers since the past few days, officials said here on Sunday.

The CR's dedicated band of Women Corona Warriors at Work comprise the two motorwomen: (Mrs) Mumtaz Kazi and (Mrs) Manisha Mhaske-Ghorpade -- who come to work in full protective gear before entering the train cabin to carry out their duties daily.

Besides the two, there are others like train guards, Railway Protection Force women personnel, female Station Managers, Booking Clerks, Ticket Checkers, maintenance staff for OHE, tracks, signal and telecom, rolling stock, points-women, medical and sanitizing workers who come in direct contact with people while working with the trains, he said.

"The message they seek to convey to all commuters amid the Coronavirus pandemic is simple -- "Be Safe and Let Others Be Safe" - as they play a vital role in ensuring the smooth running of the local trains for the essential staff," CR Spokesperson Shivaji Sutar told IANS.

The lifeline of Mumbai, the CR and Western Railway (WR) have started operating limited local trains since past few days for essential staff identified by the Maharashtra Government, following an appeal by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Sporting a face shield, mask, gloves, and other safety gears, Manisha Mhaske-Ghorpade drives the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Panvel suburban trains on the Harbour Line.

Similarly attired, with the addition to her 'burqa', Mumtaz Kazi zooms her trains on the country's first, 167-year old train route -- CSMT-Thane, with full safety precautions.

Other women who are engaged in different departments to ensure a hassle-free commute are: policewomen Anita and Sonali Nandeswari, trackwomen Preeti Rane, Aishwarya Yadav, Daksha Pravin, staffers Bhagyashree Kopde, booking clerk Vaibhavi Sutar, Deputy Station Superintendent Mamta Kulkarni, pointswoman Nita Nikale, Signal Assistant Kavita Mayekar, and Fitter Ujjwala Kadge, working on the suburban section.

"All the women - frontline and behind-the-scenes staff - play a cohesive role in protecting, safeguarding and transporting the passengers... They exhort us all to be safe and take full precautions. The world will view them as brave Corona Warriors," Sutar said.

They also appeal to the commuters to follow the medical protocols, avoid overcrowding or rush, and maintain physical distancing as mandated by the authorities for everyone's safety and wellbeing.

During the non-pandemic times, the WR and CR together ferried over 85 lakh commuters daily on the suburban services which cater to Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad, the country's most important commercial and industrial belt which is now lying almost silent under the Covid-19 siege.

Mumbai is one of the worst-hit by the Coronavirus and besides a threat to public health, economic and social disruptions, it threatens the very livelihood and well-being of millions of people who use the city's suburban trains daily.