Everyday Heroes: The Train Staff that keep the Indian Railways running

Meet Ms. Valli and Mr. Mohana Krishnan from the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

From Wellington station to Udhagamandalam (2018-03-25)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Nilgiri Mountain Railway line

A five hour scenic ride on the UNESCO World Heritage site of Nilgiri Mountain Railway line will give you a feeling of romance, adventure, relaxation and beauty. The railway line exhibits picturesque beauty in the form of ravines, tea plantations, forested hills, rocky terrains that surrounds the Nilgiris. Coonoor, in the Nilgiris, is world famous for its teas and is one of the major tourist attractions of NMR. Follow a day in the lives of the people who work tirelessly with great pride for the NMR. 

Ms. Valli serenades travellers with popular cinema songs (2018-03-22)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli, Ticket Checker

Ms. Valli is a ticket checker with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. She is multi-lingual and is a trained singer, who often entertains the travellers by singing old melodious tunes.  

ValliNilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli introduces herself

ValliNilgiri Mountain Railways

ValliNilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli checks the tickets of local passengers (2018-03-22)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli is a thorough and a kind ticket checker. She takes her job very seriously. She understands that most passengers are tourists and is considerate to their needs.

Ms. Valli checks the tickets at every station (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli is the only ticket checker for the five coaches in the train. She makes her way from one coach to another at the station stops.

Ms. Valli checks the tickets at every station (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

The coaches are not interconnected and the passengers can't move between them. It is impossible for them to escape the ticket checker.

Ms. Valli allocates seats to the passengers (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

It is always a busy time at Mettupalayam station before the steam train leaves. Passengers try to ensure that they get a seat on this iconic train.

Ms. Valli allocates seats to the passengers (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli checks her records as she get onboard the train along with other passengers.

Ms. Valli allocates seats to the passengers (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli is multi-lingual and is able to converse with tourists and travellers in one of the five languages.

Ms. Valli sings in the general compartment (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Ms. Valli often entertains and keeps the passengers in good spirits as they travel on the NMR, between Coonoor and Mettupalayam, in the first class coach.

Ms Valli sings in the general compartment (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Trained in classical Indian music, she is able to sing popular and old songs in multiple languages. Here, she is seen singing a Tamil song in the general coach.

Ms Valli sings in the first class coach (2018-03-24)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

The sight of the ticket checker singing is both entertaining and amusing for travellers. Many people often film her on their phones as she sings.

Senior brakeman Mohana Krishnan (2018-03-19)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Mr. Mohana Krishnan, Senior brakeman

Mr. Mohana Krishnan works as a senior brakeman at the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Brakemen are the eyes of the train and the engine driver. They keenly observe the tracks and ensure that there is no debris or wild animal on the tracks.

A brakeman looks keenly at the curve ahead (2018-05-25)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

Through almost all of the three hour journey, the brakemen are constantly standing and looking out for danger. They have the ability and the power to stop the train in case they see danger ahead.

They inspect the tracks in the dark tunnel with the attached headlight and warn people and wildlife about the train's arrival using a horn.

Senior brakeman, Mohana Krishnan, is seen at NMR's half tunnel (2018-03-19)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

One of the interesting features along the route is this half-excavated tunnel. Mr. Krishnan claims it looks like a monkey's face.

Departing train (2018-04-07)Nilgiri Mountain Railways

No matter what the weather conditions are, senior brakemen, like Mr. Krishnan, are actively doing their jobs. They signal to the engine driver using green or red flags if the way forward is clear.

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