Monday, January 14, 2019

A senior railway official said presently loco pilots are sent for counselling on the recommendation of the heads of departments.
10th January 2019 

The decision was taken in view of the feedback from various parts of the country that loco pilots who were involved in derailments, killing of trespassing animals and suicides undergo a lot of mental stress and depression.
Express News Service

CHENNAI: In order to ensure that loco pilots are not mentally disturbed after accidents such as derailments, suicides, running over of trespassers and animals on tracks, railways has decided to provide counselling by professional psychologists. 

The decision was taken in view of the feedback from various parts of the country that loco pilots who were involved in derailments, killing of trespassing animals and suicides undergo a lot of mental stress and depression.

Loco pilots say the move is long due. Presently, there is no system to assess the mental condition of drivers after accidents. “Suicides and killing of trespassing persons and animals on tracks are most traumatic incidents for loco pilots. The drivers have to witness the body parts getting chopped off under the wheels and getting mangled right in-front of their eyes,” said V Balachandran, a loco pilot who is also general secretary of All India Loco Running Staff Association, Southern Railway.

According to him, sometimes the train needs to be driven a few yards to take the body parts from the tracks. “This causes severe stress and depression. After every such incident, we will not be able to take food or sleep properly,” he said. 

There are a number of factors that are beyond the control of loco pilots that may lead to derailment or accidents. “But, such incidents haunt train drivers for several years. The feeling of guilt will be high when people get killed or injured in accidents, even though we are not at fault. Counselling by psychologists is a welcome move,” he said.

The recent railway board order said a two-member safety team which visited Germany recently has suggested that counselling by psychologists after accidents has improved the alertness and cognitive skills of loco pilots.

“Safety directorate suggested that divisional railway hospital may engage a psychologist to counsel loco pilots after accidents. It has also been planned that the system adopted by Deutsche Bahn AG (German railway company) can be followed in Indian railways,” read the board directive.

Going by the railway board order, Southern Railway has sought the opinion of stakeholders, including loco pilots to implement the system.

A senior railway official said presently loco pilots are sent for counselling on the recommendation of the heads of departments. “The proposed system will now ensure that for all incidents, including jumping of danger signals and killing of cattle, the drivers will be counselled,” the official said.

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