Basudeb Acharia, MP, on Wednesday stressed the need to reduce the working hours of loco pilots in view of the fatigue factor. This and the grant of a weekly holiday for them will help improve the efficiency of Indian Railways, he said.

Inaugurating a two-day 19{+t}{+h}biennial conference of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) at the Jnana Jyothi Auditorium here, he said that fatigue level among loco pilots was increasing by the day and resultantly their efficiency was coming down. But instead of blaming the mechanism responsible for that, loco pilots were being blamed and victimised, he regretted. The Railways disbanded a grievance-redress committee formed in 1973. The committee was formed after a protracted battle by the loco pilots. Though the committee had agreed to reduce the duty hours to 10 hours, the Union Government went back on the promise, he said.
On the crisis in the Indian Railways, he criticised the apathy of the Railway Ministry in filling vacant posts and noted that stress on the engine crew could be brought down, if vacancies were filled and priority accorded to safety. The Railways had downsized its personnel by 3.50 lakh and there had been no increase in staff strength in the last 10 years, he added.