Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Harsh weather: Rlys give drivers guidelines
Nidhi Singhi, TNN 4 January 2010,

LUDHIANA: Following three major train collisions in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday and in the face of dense fog, railway authorities have forwarded guidelines to drivers and guards of trains that they should not be on duty for more than 10 hours at a stretch. The guidelines have been issued by Delhi headquarters and are to be stuck to in all five divisions under Northern Railways. Confirming this, senior Divisional Safety Officer RV Singh said they had directed drivers and guards to take proper rest in an effort to minimize lapses. According to information, there is sanctioned strength of about 1,200 drivers in Ferozepur division. Three hundred and sixty two of the posts concerned are vacant. At the city station, there is sanction for 504 drivers. Against this, there are 168 vacancies, which puts added burden on employees. According to employees, this has a bearing on security arrangements for commuters. The staff crunch leads many of them to be on duty for long hours. The staff shortage has also affected maintenance of railway tracks. The harsh weather and dense fog are impeding smooth movement of trains. In absence of any device for commuters’ safety, the authorities are laying emphasis on preventive measures and they have therefore asked drivers and guards to stay alert. They have written a letter to railway board for it to effect an increase in the number of drivers in Ferozepur division so that the staff are not over-burdened. On condition of anonymity, one of the railway drivers said in the normal weather, it does not matter much if they are on duty for more than eight hours at one go, but the foggy weather makes it difficult to manage things. He further maintained that at times, drivers had to wait long for relief from duty when they were forced to drive passenger as well as goods trains, but the authorities were seemingly not concerned about their well-being, which was why despite several recommendations for fresh recruitments, they were not taking appropriate action. Commenting on it, RV Singh said they had written to the board for provision of extra staff.


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