An all-women team of Railway employees in Kerala are leading the way in breaking new ground and smashing stereotypes. The team of 14 women, lead by a woman supervisor, is the only one in the country so far responsible for looking after the maintenance of train coaches, a job traditionally dominated by men.
The 'L-Team', with the letter 'L' standing for 'Ladies', as they are called, perform critical maintenance procedures under train coaches to ensure the safety of train passengers.
The team takes care of four rakes or 80 train coaches, with compulsory, preventive safety checks required for all the rakes after every 3,500 km, a necessity to avoid derailments.
Their youngest team member is 28-year-old Krishnendu, who said she was initially scared, but stood up to the task, which requires not just mental but a huge amount of physical strength.
"Initially I was scared. But with practice, now we are perfect, things have become easier. It was unheard that women alone could handle critical checks for rakes by themselves. But, now that our team is doing it successfully, I am very proud. My family is very proud. Most of us have learnt on the job," she said.
Supervising their team is Sreekala VM, who with 12 years of dedicated service, has earned a level of confidence that spells out that her team is completely in-charge to her male counterparts.
"We are responsible for the safety of passengers. We are responsible for the safety of a train. Everything is checked by us for the rakes. We are in-charge of, including the mechanical maintenance side. Inside job, passenger amenities or even the under gear examinations - which are high priority for safety, all are our responsibilities," she said.
The team has been in charge now for over two years. Similar attempts have been planned by railway authorities in other sectors, but the 'L-Team' happens to be the only one as of now, which consists only of women.