Monday, July 9, 2012


S H O RTAG E O F  S TA F F  A N D  S PA R E  PA RT S

 H I T S   WO R K  AT   BA S I N  B R I D G E    T R A I N   CA R E  C E N T R E

RAILWAY STAFF BATTLE MUCK, INDIFFERENCE

V Ayyappan | TNN 


    KMunir, an engineering graduate, was delighted when he got a railway job. But, he did not imagine that his job would require him to wade through muck-filled pit line (a track where trains are inspected at the railway yard) and remove human waste in order to inspect coaches at the Basin Bridge train care centre, the largest under Southern Railway where 30 pairs of trains are inspected every day. 
  
  With growing demand, every year a number of new and special trains are introduced. However, the manpower and infrastructure have not kept pace with the rising number of trains. Shortage of staff and spare parts has hit the maintenance of coaches at Basin Bridge train care centre. The centre has 3,500 employees, but will need at least 400 more. Though more than 10 employees retire every month, vacancies are not being filled up. 

Employees have started protesting because railways is planning to introduce a Duronto express train from Chennai. “We cannot check any more trains as several of us are overworked. Technicians are often told to collect garbage, segregate plastic water bottles, maint a i n hy - drants, which are jobs for contract workers,” said an employee. 

Basin Bridge centre is the largest yard under Southern 
Railway where trains of 18 to 24 coaches are checked, cleaned and readied for its next trip after they return from round trips. Parts from unused coaches are used to replace faulty components. The yard has 14 pit lines to inspect undercarriage of trains, but only two lines can accommodate 24-coach trains. The rest are designed to park 18-coach trains. Five to six people are allotted one train these days. Earlier, 12 employees were allotted for the same job. 

    “Attention to core activities suffers because only 50% of the trained staff is available for mechanical, technical, electrical and maintenance works on coaches. The workload is high and spare parts are not available. Still, employees are pulled up for faults,” said Paul Maxwell Johnson, divisional secretary, Southern Railway Mazdoor Union. 

    “Many of us have skin ailments as we have to wade through stagnant water using regular shoes or sandals in pit lines. Our staff rooms do 
not stock soap or disinfectant to wash ourselves after duty. Undercarriage of coaches is often plastered with dried human waste because urine and faeces from toilets are discharged into tracks when train moves,” said a fitter who checks two trains of 24 coaches at Basin Bridge train care centre. 

    A senior railway official said, “Discussions were held with workers to sort out the issue. There is a shortage of staff because many people are retiring.”









HARD DAY'S WORK: 1. A techinician checks the undercarriage of a train for faults; 2. Only AC coaches get water washes at the Basin Bridge train care centre due to shortage of water; 3. Temporary insulation for live wires that carry 440 volts of electricity pose a threat to several of the staff here; 4. A worker walks through a pit line

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