India’s first woman loco pilot Surekha Yadav made us proud again on Monday as she operated Asia’s first semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express train from Solapur to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminal (CSMT) in Maharashtra. She steered the train for over 450 km and reached CSMT five minutes before the scheduled arrival time.
Hailing from Satara in western Maharashtra, she became India’s first female locomotive driver in 1988 and has won numerous accolades at the state and national levels for her achievements. She completed a diploma in electrical engineering from the Government Polytechnic College at Karad before joining the Central Railways in 1986 as a trainee assistant driver.
She later graduated as a ghat driver and was assigned duty on the Deccan Queen, which travels between CST and Pune and negotiates steep inclines of the ghat. She also drove the first Mumbai-Lucknow Special train with an all-women crew on International Women’s Day in 2021.
Surekha Yadav owes her career to hard work and discipline. Her commitment to the railways dates back to 1986 when she cleared the Railway Recruitment Board exam.
The 57-year-old has dedicated herself to rigorous training, including closely observing signals, gaining hands-on experience with new equipment, coordinating with other crew members, and monitoring all necessary parameters for safe and efficient train operation. She has also attended crash courses to improve her ability to react quickly during a collision.
Her impressive skill set has enabled her to become a successful locomotive driver, as she has successfully managed trains safely through treacherous mountain ranges. Her success on the Deccan Queen and other trains has led to several accolades, including a State-level award for her services.
As a loco pilot, she has gained access to the latest technology, making her an invaluable asset for the Indian Railways. In addition, she has been undergoing special training to prepare her for her role on the new Vande Bharat route, equipped with KAVACH, a Train Collision Avoidance System.
According to railway officials, loco piloting on new routes involves comprehensive learning, and the crew must remain vigilant during the train journey. In addition to observing signals, they have to be prepared to deal with all the unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the trip.
The Vande Bharat Express is the first ever semi-high-speed train of its kind to be launched in India, and it is slated to run between New Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Mumbai. It is expected to reduce travel time between these cities by more than half.
Her accomplishments have also led to her becoming a symbol of inspiration for women nationwide. She has been a tireless advocate of gender equality and has continuously worked harder than most to break the patriarchal norms in her field.
She has a long and illustrious career in the railways. Her journey began as a trainee assistant driver in 1989, and she has since moved up the ranks to become a goods driver in 1996 and finally a motor woman in 2000. She is also a member of the prestigious All-India Senior Railway Staff Association.
Surekha Yadav, the First Woman Loco Pilot of Vande Bharat Express Trainhttps://t.co/zkm6WrF9Q9
— The Publishers Weekly (@TPWeekly) March 24, 2023