Saturday, August 9, 2014



        
  
MEMORANDUM TO PRIME MINISTER AND RAILWAY MINISTER

To                                                                    To
THE HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER      THE HONOURABLE RAILWAY MINISTER
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA                         RAIL BHAVAN
NEW DELHI                                          NEW DELHI
                        Through Divisional Railway Manager

Respected Sir,
                 Sub: Railway safety enhancement; Demand for implementation of recommendations of various committees.

              This Union represents the Loco Running Staff of Indian Railways. The entire Loco Running Staff whole heartily welcome the new government headed by your good self and assure our full cooperation in development work of the nation particularly in Railways’ productivity security and safety. The Loco Running Staff of entire country also pin their hope that the genuine grievances of the staff will be looked into, and redressed.
              Indian Railways is one of the largest Railway system which has served people of India well over a period of time. The demand on the system is rapidly growing without commensurate investment for upgradation of technology and modernisation consistent with modern time.
              At the same time keeping the entire railway system under the ownership of the state is as important as ensuring its modernisation so that the larger interest of the majority of the common people of our country could be properly taken care of.
              Apart from this the safety in train service is paramount and the entire work force under the ministry as well the people of the country expect a serious consideration in the matter by the new Government.
              In this matter, the Association have suggestions and views and we at this stage, confine with the deliberations on this matter alone.
              It is in record that 85% of the accidents in Indian Railways are due to Human Failures. The worst accidents are termed as collisions of the trains. It is in statistics that collisions based on their time of occurrence indicates that the period of 22:00 hrs to 06:00 hrs is most vulnerable during which 50% of collisions occurred. Analysis of five years of data from 2007 to 2012 indicates out of 43 collisions occurred during this period 21 were on account of Loco Pilots, for Signal passing at danger (SPAD). It is also specifically noted that the incidence of SPAD but not resulting an accident is in higher side. The minimum penalty for passing signal at danger, but not resulting an accident even are either dismissal / removal from service or compulsory retirement. It is worthwhile to mention that even, this measure of punishment such as removal / dismissal failed to bring a desired result. Our Organisation continuously has been demanding for analysing the reason behind human failure caused for a SPAD by team of specialist consist of scientist, psycetric, and physician etc. Sir, safety of Railways is a do or dies subject for Loco running staff.
              Taking a very serious view on this matter, the Ministry of Railways appointed many high level committees to analyse the cause of accidents. These committees submitted their detail report to the Ministry of Railways. We are constrained to say that most of the recommendations thus obtained are not being implemented but kept in cold storage.
              High Level Safety Review Committee headed by Shri.Anil Kakodkar submitted their report in February 2012. The main recommendations are -
1.  All  the  newly recruited Assistant Loco Pilots should be Diploma holders instead of present Matriculate/ ITI holders. (Para 6.3)
2.  Severe shortage of manpower in safety categories such as ........, Loco  Pilots  etc.  was universally  reported  in  almost  all  interactions.  The  complaint  gets substantiated by the vacancy position shown in Table 5.

i. Loco Pilot   7832 out of 36772       21.3%
ii. Shunters     1679 out of 7335        23 %
iii. Asst.LP        7040 out of 35711     19.7%
       iv. Motorman     568 out of 3505       16.2%
Total      17119 vacancies (Para 2.11.1)

           Some  kind  of  helplessness  was  expressed  in  filling  up  the  existing vacancies due to inordinate delay by Railway Recruitment Boards which have been entrusted with direct recruitment of railway supervisors and staff. Such staff shortage on the existing sanctions is adversely hampering the maintenance of assets affecting safety.
          The Committee recommends that all the vacancies in safety category are filled up in a time bound manner say within 6 months by leveraging IT based recruitment systems. (Para 2.11.2)
3.  Policy of having a matching surrender for creation of additional  posts  under  safety  category  may  no  longer  be  feasible considering that Railways have been on this venture since last few decade. (Para 2.11.3)
 4. It was reported that running staff are called for driving the train at midnight after completion of their leave period on the previous   day  which   puts   undue   pressure   on   them   if   their   personal engagement lasted till late in the evening. It is suggested that the running staff are called at 08:00 hours on the subsequent date after availing leave till the previous date. (Para 6.6)
5. It is ironical that Railway Board has both the
executive responsibility as well as the regulatory authority to enforce and
control safety in the Indian Railway system. There is critical need for an agency separate from Railway Board, whose overarching responsibility is all aspects of safety, prevention of accidents, enquiring into the breaches and enforcing remedial measures if safety has to become the prime concern of
railway operations. (Para 8.3.1).
          The above scenario presents a strong case for immediate steps to bolster safety orientation of Indian Railways along with inculcating a culture of zero tolerance of accidents. If the avowed goal has to be achieved there is urgent need for setting up of a statutory Railway Safety Authority which acts as an independent Authority under the Government and is responsible for all aspects pertaining to safety regulation and enforcement while the prime responsibility for safety continues to be that of the Railway Board. (Para 8.3.2)
6. Helplessness at all levels of executives was noted by the Committee in dealing with Finance Department. The Committee was made to understand that the role of Finance has now become all pervasive encompassing almost all processes and procedures and nothing moves without their concurrence. This is not acceptable as the same not only acts as a decelerator to delivery of works but also breeds frustration and kills initiatives of executives which is not good for the organization. (Para 2.12.1)
          Unless the system is freed from the vice grip of finance department, executives cannot deliver in style and in time.  While the Committee is greatly concerned with the slow decision-making process on the Railways, we would leave it to the Railways to find the remedy for the same. (Para 2.12.2)

MINUTES OF OFFICERS MEET ON AVOIDING SPAD

              In order to analyse the cause of Signal Passing At Danger and remedial measure a meeting held in Railway Board on 12.06.2012.  The Chairman Railway Board, Member Mechanical and many other Railway Board/Zonal level officials were attended the meeting. During the interactive session, many good suggestions were emerged. Those suggestions were sent to all Zonal Railways by a letter No. 2004/M (L)/466/710/ dated 14.06.2012 direction to make effort to implement to ensure safety and bring down cases of SPAD on Indian Railways. The important directives are –
A.1. There is a need to have a uniform cab design one for diesel and another for electric locos.
A.2. There is a need to improve the condition of driving cabs by making them sound proof and ergonomic and to relocate the horn so that the sound level is within limits. Cab should also be air-conditioned.
B.4. Calendar day rest should be provided to running staff instead of 22/30 hrs. rest so that they may fulfill their familyand social obligations.  
C.5. Long hours of crew should be minimized by providing relief. Railway should make arrangements for hiring road vehicles to ensure the above.
C.6. Links should be made in such a way so that there are not more than 2/3 continuous night duties.
E.3. The maximum duty hours of mail/express drivers should be reduced to 6 hours as they encounter one signal every minute on an average during their run.
C.16. The rest at HQ and outstation should be liberalised. A crew on 6 hr. outstation rest should be served call book after completing rest i,e. 6 hours + 2 hours = 8 hours.
E.11. Timely crew review should be done to creation of posts. DRM should be empowered to sanction the post.
But to our surprise no serious effort were taken by the Zonal Railway to implement the same, rather on the other hand the Zonal and Divisional level the actions are being taken just in contrary to it.  
HIGH POWER COMMITTEE ON DUTY HOURS REGULATIONS
The Ministry of Railways constituted a High Power Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri.D.P.Tripathi IRTS(Retd) a former Secretary of the Government with Three additional members to review the duty hours of Running Staff and allied matters. The said Committee submitted its report to Ministry of Railways in August 2013. Important recommendations are -
1)  Replacement of Assistant Loco Pilots with Co-Pilots on those Mail/Express trains also which have a nonstop run of more than four hours.
              Existing instructions of minimum punishment to staff for SPAD cases should be reviewed to ensure that the decision takes into account the gravity of the offence (repercussions of the SPAD) and also the Loco Pilot’s past record(Para4.3.1.3)(1)
2)  Standard hours of work for the cumulative duty period in a fortnight for the Loco Pilots (Mail/Express) shall be reduced to 90 hours Para 4.3.1.3 (2) and Para 4.3.7.3

3)  The period of spare travel should get counted towards duty at a stretch (from ‘sign on’ to ‘sign off’) Para 4.3.1.3 (3)

4)  The limit of stay away from Head quarters for Running Staff shall be fixed at 72 hours. It should be further brought down to 48 hours in tandem with vision 2020 Para 4.3.2.3.

NB: - Here it is necessary to mention that the AILRSA expressed its disagreement to this recommendation and request to minimize out station stay to 36hrs. Once Railway Board has also advised the Zonal / Division to limit the out station stay to 36hrs. 

5) Continuous night duty for Running Staff shall be limited to 2 Nights Para 4.3.3.3

6)The Headquarter rest of Running Staff shall be 16 hours irrespective of the duration of his incoming trip Para 4.3.4.3 and Para 4.3.7.3

7)The outstation rest of Running Staff shall be 8 hours irrespective of duration of his incoming trip Para 4.3.5.3 and Para 4.3.7.3

8)Four periodical rests of 40 hours each shall be granted to all categories of Running Staff in a month Para 4.3.6.3 and Para 4.3.7.3
9) RRBs should be advised to prepare a stand by panel to the extent of 100% of the indent Para 4.3.8.1
10) All Running Rooms should be provided with air conditioning in due course beginning with Running Rooms located in humid/coastal areas, with 100% Power back up arrangements.
Only the fully subsidised meals should be served to the Running Staff as is the practice in Civil Aviation sector Para 7.4

11) (i) Air conditioning of locomotive cab
      (ii) Provision of toilet in Locomotive to be provided
      (iii) Implementation of essential features identified by the Ministry of                     Railways for crew friendly cab Para 8.1.1

              On these recommendations this union submitted its prayer for implementation with some modifications on duty hours and classification. But still it is in the consideration of Ministry of Railways and none of the recommendations so far be implemented.
Railway safety review committee 1998
              Minimum penalty for Passing Signal at Danger is removal/dismissal from service. With this scale of punishment all are reluctant to report such incidents and that only what cannot be hidden is being reported. The present practice on Indian Railway is to interpret every accident as being attributable to some individual, the “who went wrong” syndrome rather than the more pertinent “what went wrong” approach. We feel that this punitive approach far from encouraging a culture of safety on the Railways has contrary created on ethos where (a) Railwaymen are reluctant to report unsafe condition and work practice. (b) Where system faults and weaknesses remain undiagnosed. (c) Where individuals and departments disown responsibility for accident at any cost, thereby vitiating accident enquiries. We are unable to accept the philosophy that all accidents are caused due to a deliberate wrong act or due to negligence.
              In this context we call for your attention to the recommendation and deliberation of the report of Railway Safety Review Committee 1998 in part II, para 4.3.1, 4.3.2. that the 1968 Railway Board Circular on minimum punishment should be modified, if it cannot be dispensed with altogether, further recommended that “ our committee strongly recommend that at the very least, the clause relating to SPAD, but not causing any accident, should be deleted from the circular”.
Even a lapse of 16 years, the recommendations are still in paper. In this intervening period hundreds of loco pilots were either removed from service, or compulsorily retired. In the existing fear filled environment, none of the loco pilot will honestly admit that the train passed the signal at danger, that itself prevent him from to spelt out “ what went wrong”, defeating the very purpose of the accident enquiry to find out the deficiency and weakness in the system. We had submitted several memorandums before the earlier Governments asking to implement the same but nothing happened.
These Committees were mainly constituted to enhance safety parameters in Indian Railways. The Committees also took the matter with almost serious and discussed with a cross section of Officers and workers. Their recommendations will be seen in this context. Implementation of the same without delay is warranted by the circumstances prevailed in Indian Railways.
12) RLC / Chennai’s decision on duty hours.
    In addition to above, I would further like to bring it in your kind notice that RLC Chennai, after having the Job evaluation recommended to re-classify the Job of Loco Pilots as intensive and to limit the duty to 6hrs. The Ministry of Labour, the competent Government had rejected the appeal of Railway Board against the recommendation of RLC / Chennai. The Railway Board instead of implementing this decision has gone on appeal to High Court Chennai where as the reduction in duty hours is very essential and the demand of days to ensure safety in the train operation in the Railways. 
We plead before your good office to take initiative to implement the recommendations without delay, to enhance the safety in Indian Railway and restore the confidence of travelling public and the workers.
Thanking You Sir,
Date : 13.08.2014                                                                     Yours sincerely
                                                                                               (                      )
                                                                                               Divisional Secretary

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