At 4.45 am in the morning while mentally planning for a client appointment I drove my car out of my apartment. Within few minutes, I was about to get past the railway gate located very close to my home in Yelahanka. Yelahanka is in the North of Bangalore and is located in a very busy passenger and freight train corridor. Many trains arrive into Yelahanka/Bangalore city early in the morning and there are more chances to find the railway gate closed at that early hours.
Luckily, the gate was open. The weather meter in my car dashboard indicated 16 deg Celsius and the early morning silence was slowly broken by my car stereo with a devotional song. I was slowly approaching the railway cross.
Interestingly, she was a familiar figure. This lady works as a guard at the railway gate and one can often find her operating the gates. I was wondering what she was doing in the middle of the track at that hour without any fear of oncoming random traffic. She did not get up even after noticing my car headlights or another one approaching the tracks from the opposite direction. She was busy doing something on the track. That’s when I noticed a brush and a tray in her hand and she was collecting something from the track.
- The Indian government has launched an ambitious multi-billion dollar Bullet Train project, great to know that and I’m sure such projects come with impeccable safety standards. At the same time, there are millions of kilometers of Indian Railways has thousands of such manned railway crossings and every single railway level cross has a person manning the level cross to clean the rail tracks.
- 28,607 level crossings across the country of which 19,267 are manned and 9340 are unmanned (Source: Indian Express)
- Regular inspection is done by railway engineers regarding the tracks. I’ve only seen men doing such work
- How can a women worker be allowed to work at 4.45 am, risking her own safety?
- How many times we all travel in a train and wish our journey to be a safe one? Also, there is always a lot of discussion about improving the safety of rail travelers. Who is taking care of the occupational hazards of such low-level workers who complete a vital link in providing the required safety for the passengers?