Mumbai, Dec 8 (mb): President Pratibha Patil has appointed a woman officer to head the Central Railway (CR), the country's oldest and second largest zonal railway network headquartered here.
Sowmya Raghavan created history as she stepped into the 154-year-old World Heritage building Central Railway headquarters at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, on Wednesday evening to take her new charge.
Raghavan's work will be keenly observed by the 1.25 billion commuters who use the Mumbai suburban network, and another 170 million long-distance passengers on the nearly 3,835-km route network, a CR spokesman said citing latest figures.
Prior to her new charge, Raghavan was financial advisor to the Railway Board. This made Raghavan second in command to the finance commissioner at the board, which is the highest policy-making authority of the Indian Railways.
An IRTS officer of the 1973 batch, Raghavan also served as the Southern Railway finance advisor and chief accounts officer (FA&CAO).
It is considered quite a rare instance when an officer from the purely office-oriented accounts stream is made a GM, which is highly operations-oriented job.
Incidentally, the Central Railways enjoys a previous record of women breaking the male bastion. In 1992, Surekha Yadav became Asia's first woman engine driver, followed by Mumtaz K.
At present, the Central Railway has five women train drivers, the spokesman said.
Raghavan's tenure comes at a critical time when the Central Railway, plus the two other networks serving Mumbai - the Western Railway and the Konkan Railway - will join hands with the Maharashtra government to implement new mega-projects.