HYDERABAD: On a day, when the whole country was busy celebrating Holi, here was one woman who was living her dream. The crowd cheered as Satyavathi boarded the engine coach of “Matribhoomi” Ladies Special MMTS Train and drove it like a dream till the Lingampally Railway station. “I can’t tell you, how happy I am at this moment. Being the first woman in the South Central Railway to independently drive a passenger feels great.” Call it coincidence, it was the International Women’s Day and the whole Lingampally Station was taken over by ladies. Right from the station master to the point’s men or rather point’s women, the commerical staff, ticket-issuing personnel and even the Railway Protection Force (RPF), all were women.
S Satyavathi is a B.tech graduate from JNTU and has also pursued a diploma in electronics and communication. She is the first ever woman Loco Pilot to independently handle passenger train on the South Cental Railway and will work as the Loco Pilot on Falaknuma-Lingampalli “Matribhoomi” Ladies Special MMTS Train on Thursday. Ask her about her loco pilot dream, she says, “I don’t know when I developed interest towards this, but yes all I can say is I am loving what I am doing.”
After being in the field for over 13 years, Satyavathi says, “It is not that tough a job. Like every profession, one can always learn. And now that so many women are trying to venture into different professions, I think others should also try and achieve their dreams.”
Satyavathi initially joined as an asst. Loco Pilot at Bangalore in 1999 and then was transferred to Secunderabad Division. She was promoted as Loco Pilot (Goods) on September 1, 2005 and has been working in shuttling duties on goods trains in and around Hyderabad since then. “It is very important for the driver to understand the engine. We usually start off our training as an assistant loco pilot, then move onto shunter trains or goods trains and then to passenger trains and finally, become loco pilots.”
She was considered for running MMTS trains after successfully clearing her MMTS training and was found fit to run the MMTS trains in the sub-urban sections in the twin-cities as an independent MMTS Loco Pilot. She will be managing and working in MMTS Trains without the assistance of an assistant Loco Pilot. “As part of the training we are taught how to know the track, the amount of speed to be put in, how to see if it is gradient, how much to accelerate and how to learn to identify signals. And within MMTS, one has to know the current flow, voltage levels and time management,” she explains.
She has also taken a track learning course in Hyderabad-Tandur section and aspires for running main line passenger trains too. “My dream is to drive the Rajdhani and the Shatabdi Express, as they are really the prestigious ones and also the fastest.”
Being the first one from her family, Satyavathi is really proud of herself. “I am satisfied with myself and I guess my job is easier than what a lot of people do. I can focus more as I have my own room, and no distractions,” she laughs. Talking about her family support, she says, “I think they have been the most encouraging and the positive side of my life. They always supported me and supported all my decisions.”
But all said and done, being a woman and driving for days at a stretch is no easy job. “It definitely is challenging and that is precisely why I took it up. I had to prove it, so now a lot more women will join in. If I could do it, then anybody could achieve it.” Asked if she ever wanted to pilot an aeroplane, she replies, “We are no different from pilots,” and boards the train and sets off to her next destination.