Monday, June 4, 2012

Loco Pilots March to Commissioner of Railway Safety Office , Bangalore on 07.06.2012. 10.00hrs from Bangalore City railway Station.

Dear friends,,
            On 22-05-2012 Hampi express met with an accident at 3.15 hours at Penukonda station of Bangalore division with 25 deaths and injury to many. Railways immediately said the reason for accident is HUMAN-FAILURE, and if so, one should ponder for the reasons behind it.

     Mr.SAM PITRODA in his report on railway modernization stated that railways are dreaming to achieve requirements of 21st century with a bureaucracy having a mindset of 20th century with rules and laws of 19th century! The inhuman rules of 19th century under the HOER is the real villain in railways causing accidents. The Hon.Rly minister MUKUL ROY after visiting accident spot said that, he will use ACD (anti collision device)  extensively to prevent collisions  and ask for funds from finance ministry, but refused to say that, I will change the inhuman rules of HOER.
     The ill fated crew of Hampi express admitted that his eyelids went close for a few seconds beyond his physical control and missed the home signal. From 14th May to 19th May the said loco pilot was booked to work six continuous nights and on 20th May he got a night rest and on 21st May he was booked to work next night train,  the Hampi express. According to the HOER after continuous six night working, he got a night rest but after that on next night duty he had a micro sleep. Micro sleep is a sleep which may last for 30 to 60 seconds which is the result of accumulated sleep deprivation, mental fatigue etc and often the person is not aware of the sleep that has occurred. A train running at 100KMPH will pass 1.7 KMS in 60 seconds and if micro sleep occurs after a distant signal at caution, accident will happen. Is there any biological studies done for  justifying six continuous night duty rule of HOER which is beyond human capacity? To overcome this safety hazard of micro sleep, the RDSO recommendation of limiting continuous night duties to two should be incorporated in HOER.
     The excess noise pollution up to100 decibels in locomotives against the permitted 75 decibels by pollution control board, excess heat, dust pollution etc in driving cab contributes to early fatigue to loco pilots which distracts their attention & concentration on duty. The railways are so callous that they are not willing to standardise the location of horns above the head lights which will reduce noise pollution in driving cab avoiding rebounding of sound with coaches in spite of having a research wing like RDSO. Loco Sheds are not willing to provide rigid locking arrangements to control compartment doors and nose compartments doors causing excess noise and heat in cab. As a solution to cab ergonomics, AC cab was demanded by AILRSA, which will be heat, noise and dust proof.  Ex-Rly minister MAMTA BANARJEE had approved and declared it, but railways are not willing to implement.
     Visibility from the loco is a big casualty in long hood driving and SIKRI Committee had
recommended short hood driving in view of safety. But railways further extended the length of long hood 5 meters more than WDM2 in WDP4/WDG4 with projection of radiator room and battery box reducing visibility largely with a seant regard to safety. During rainy season visibility is further reduced due to bad quality wipers or non working wipers. The short hood working can be achieved by renewing old steam turning tables or turning at triangle sections near junction stations.
     The reflex action attained by loco pilots are lost due to un-scientific design of left/right side driving wherein a loco pilots point of sighting a signal from right side to left side in long hood differs. Added with non-standardisation of driving gadgets from loco to loco leading to late reaction by LP: in case of emergenceis. Eventhough there are several DSO/CSO and director of safety at board level, the onus of safe  run is trusted upon crew alone without ensuring visibility and uniformity, while a nano car worth two lakh rupees has standardised driving gadgets, excellent wiper, dust and sound proof driving cab comparing to a 12 crore worth WDP4/WDG4.
     The passenger/mail crew links are drawn by avoiding four 30 hours PR and mostly 22 hours PR taking advantage of the ambiguity in HOER. Even if four 30 hours PR is given all the 365 days crew will be on the loco if he is not on leave as their weekly rest does not cover a calendar day in addition  to their normal rest, similar to other continuously classified staff. Since the vacancies are not filled up for want of economy this 30/22 hours PR is also not been granted and loco pilots are booked for trains evading PR’s. The personal work done by other employees in a calendar day rest are done by loco pilots by seeking one day leave but one day leave also a rare thing. Railway officers ignore the fact that a leave denied loco pilot is a potential hazard, although they are keen to keep their posts 100% full without any vacancies!
     Railway board issued a circular limiting outstation detention to 36 hours as far as possible but many depots goods crew are put at outstations for 72/96 hours causing mental agony which reduces concentration on running duties. It is a rule framed when passenger services were very scarce to move crew for balancing but nowadays with frequent passenger services, this rule can be abandoned.
     Railways have kept the upper limit of duty hours to 13 in its rule book ignoring 8 hours duty limit of the  ILO Convention to which India is a signatory. But under the threat of DAR, goods crew are terrorized to work 13 hours and more in a loco which emits 100 decibel noise and 10 degree more temperature than room temperature causing early fatigue leading to lapses and accidents. The Chennai RLC had recently classified LP(P)/LP(M) as intensive through a job analysis but railways are refusing to implement.
     Under the name of zonal crew link extended crew beat is in force from 2008 and loco pilots have to work in 5 to 6 routes combating numerous signals and station layouts. The crew mostly goes in particular route only once in 30 or 40 days and looses the acquaintance that leads to accidents and it has to be reviewed.
     The crew is utilised for other duties such as GDR check of wagons, Coupling/uncoupling other than driving is causing early fatigue and both unsafe, to train running as well as fitness of wagons, as crew is not competent. Similarly utilisation of non running railway staff to assist loco pilot in sections without road learning under SR 3.78 is also a safety hazard.
     The crew has to ensure the aspect of signals whether the signal posts have power or no signal post itself and the GR 3.78 says do not   trust the signals entirely even though they are in favour and be vigilant and cautious and from these rule one can conclude that in no circumstance railway management will take responsibility to an accident.
     To ensure the safety of railways the loco running staff of SWR SR and SCR decide march to CRS office Bangalore to appraise him the unsafe work culture followed in railways promoting accidents, and AILRSA demands to extent the railway accident enquiries to the reasons of human failure too. We demand as follows, to reduce human failure.

1.  Classify loco running staff as intensive.
2.  Allow 30+16 hours PR
3.  Limit Continuous night duties to two
4.  Redraw crew links for mail trains in divisional jurisdiction          for better acquaintance
5.  Standardise the locomotives to retain reflexes with air conditioned cabs
6.  Run diesel locomotives in short hood only or modify as twin cab like electric locos
7.  Introduce air-conditioning in running rooms to avail proper rest.
8.  Ensure zero vacancy in loco running cadre.

AILRSA - SWR, SR & SC Railways


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