Special Correspondent

Senior-most woman employee of the South Central Railway does the honours

HYDERABAD: It was a dream come true for K. Lakshmi Bai, a group IV attendant and senior-most woman employee of the South Central Railway, when she flagged off the ‘Garib Rath’ to Yeshwantpur (Bangalore) at Secunderabad railway station on Sunday.

As senior officials, including Secunderabad Divisional Railway Manager Sharat V. Ingle watched, a beaming Lakshmi Bai went about her task that she later said would cherish in her lifetime. While the pilot was M. Nageswara Rao, with 35 years of experience, his co-pilot was S. Mahboob Basha, a driver with 10 years’ experience in the railways. The 12-coach train is air-conditioned. Mr. Ingle said SCR had fulfilled a promise made by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in the last budget. While patronage on Sunday was not much to write home about, he was sure it would pick up very soon. “After all, at a fare of Rs. 499, we are offering a much better, air-conditioned product at a price much lower than an air-conditioned Volvo,” he said. The fare was 44 per cent lower than the regular AC three-tier fare by regular trains.

Chief Public Relations Officer P. Krishnaiah said the frequency of tri-weekly would be scaled up once the patronage increased.

With a 24-hour notice to people on the passenger reservation system 165 berths were taken on the train’s inaugural run from Secunderabad to Yeshwantpur, Bangalore.

Additional DRM Satish Chandra and Senior DCM Chandrima Rai were present.