Monday, June 2, 2014

Loco pilots wait for Railway Minister to address woes

ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

 
The loco pilots of the South Western Railway are an aggrieved lot. The introduction of new trains have led to an increase in their workload as there has not been a corresponding increase in the workforce. They are hoping that the new Railway Minister, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, will not only address their woes, but also speed up recruitment.
According to S.D. Arnold, president, All India Loco Running Staff Association, South Western Railway, the shortage of loco pilots (LPs) has severely affected working pilots as they are unable to avail of even sick leave. The association said staff strength had not increased corresponding to the number of new trains introduced every year.
There are 174 vacancies of LPs in the Hubli division, 82 in Bangalore and 108 in the Mysore division of the South Western Railway under different categories. In all, the 364 posts of LP include nine vacancies in mail, 75 in passenger, 103 in goods, 86 in shunter and 91 vacancies for the post of assistant loco pilot, the association said.
Besides this, at least 630 LPs are unavailable to perform duties on regular trains every day owing to reasons such as duty on special trains, leave, perpetual absenteeism, ill health and training. Thus, the effective number of LPs available on a given day is about 1,377 of the 2,014 working strength, it said.
Extended duty hours
The shortage has also brought about extended duty hours, from six hours to eight. LPs are also denied adequate rest between duties. This trend is not only dangerous for a loco pilot, but also for the public as there was a higher chance for stress-related human errors to creep in, the association said.
The Indian Railways is in need of a major overhaul, including rationalising of operations and restructuring of the administrative set up, which the association said could be accomplished by Mr. Gowda.

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