2 women selected to drive Mumbai’s first metro trains

Of the 6,000 aspirants who applied, 40 made the cut for a training programme as trainee metro pilots: Priyanka Balid and Srikala Nair are among them

It took the Railways nearly 125 years to rope in their first woman driver, but Mumbai Metro’s very first batch of 40 pilots includes two women, who are now in the midst of a gruelling 80-day training programme in the city, having finished a stint abroad. The training, imparted on a machine that costs a hefty Rs 40 crore, teaches the trainee pilots not only how to drive the new trains, but also to tackle crises like terror strikes or medical emergency.

Once they complete training, the two women — Priyanka Balid and Srikala Nair — and their 38 male counterparts, will be maneuvering trains on the 11.07-km-long Versova Andheri Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor, the city’s first Metro line.

Priyanka, who is a mechanical engineer, and her co-trainee Srikala were selected from 6,000 applicants who responded to the advertisement.

Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) officials revealed that the training programmes were trained in a manner that would equip the pilots to handle crisis effectively. Twenty-four-year-old Priyanka, who is enjoying her stint thoroughly, said, “Training to be a pilot is definitely interesting and involves a lot of hard work.

The monthly salary to be paid to the pilots once they begin manning the controls is between Rs 50,000-70,000.