Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shri. Suresh Prabhu,                                                                               
Hon’ Minister for Railways,                 
            Government of India,                                         
New Delhi – 110 001.

Respected Sir,
            We wish to draw your kind attention to the ‘Signal Passing at Danger’ – SPAD by Loco Pilots in Indian Railways, which is to be considered as a very serious issue.  49 out of 69 divisions in Indian Railways informed us through RTI that 272 cases of passing signal at danger took place in a span of 4 years between 2010 to 2014 and also informed that 536 Loco Running staff were taken up under Disciplinary action, culminated in Removal from Service / Compulsory Retirement for 524 Loco Running staff.
            Yes, prima facie it seems, apt action of a management.  Exemplary punishment were awarded to those went wrong, so as to create more awareness among other Loco Pilots not to commit such fatal mistakes.  But in fact these type of penal action only created fear psychosis among the Loco Pilots, not alertness.  Railway Board directed all Railways to  award extreme punishment even there were no accident caused on account of SPAD; where the problem starts.
            In spite of hundreds of Loco Pilots were subjected to such extreme punishment, still passing signal at Danger continues unabated.  Deterrent penal action seems to be not a solution to arrest the ever increasing SPAD by Loco Pilots.  Prudency dictates a different course.  The investigations after every such case were so designed to find “who went wrong” instead of ”what went wrong”.
            Why the Loco Pilot passed the signal never enquired or investigated and researched, as done in Railways of other countries.  Only when the reasons, circumstances that made the Loco Pilot to pass the signal at danger were found, remedial measures could be formulated and implemented.  On the fear of ‘termination from service’, none of the Loco Pilots admit that he passed the signal at danger, he will be in defense.  That prevents the investigating authority to realize the situation, reason and circumstances which led the Loco Pilot to commit a SPAD.
            In other Railways the course adopted is different.  There is no threat of losing his job because of SPAD, thereby ensuring transparency and confidence on the management, which induce him to admit that he passed the signal, which enables the authority to find out the real cause of such incidents, and the reasons and circumstances that led to the incident.  The course adopted by the Railway Board has to be relooked in this perception.  A new approach on such cases has to be derived.  The old concept of deterrent punishment will not settle the matter.  We sincerely hope that your good-self will take the issue as best as possible.
            The view as we pleaded, were recommended by the ‘Railway Safety Review Committee – 1998’ headed by Hon’ Justice H.R. Khanna, that “to elucidated the real reasons, from the man who committed such mistakes, the predetermined extreme punishment be stopped.”  That recommendation still not been properly appreciated.  Added to that the High Level Safety Review Committee headed by renown scientist Shri. Anil Kakodkar made several recommendations to improve the working condition of Loco Pilots, also not been heeded. 
The recent High Power Committee-2013 to review the duty hours of Running staff headed by Shri. D. P. Tripathi  made several recommendations specially on Loco Running Staff and their duty hours, rest, night duty etc. to reduce SPAD cases, also not been conceded by the Railway Board.  The Loco Pilots were made to work all the 365 days in an year stating the provisions of ‘Hours of Employment Regulations’ promulgated in 1938, but said to be revised in 2005, “like old wine in new bottle”.  The over fatigued Loco Pilots tend to commit accidents.  The apathy of Railway Board in implementing the recommendations of these 3 Committees created too harm to the Running staff as well as to the travelling public.
            We request your good-self to deliberate upon these issue and various recommendations given by these three Committees to find a solution.  Equally we plead to constitute a High level Committee of Scientists and Medical faculties to go into the reason why the Loco Pilot passing the signal at Danger, so as to save us from the ordeal and equally make the Railway transportation a safe one.  In order to draw the attention, we observe a protest on 31st March, 2015.
            In this scenario, in Trivandrum division of Southern Railway, an Assistant Loco Pilot Shri. B. Gopakumar was removed from service by the ADRM and on appeal to the Chief Operations Manager, Southern Railway, removal is modified  to that of Pay reduction from Rs. 10,150/- to Rs. 6,780/-  for a period of 21 years with recurring effect and Loco Pilot has been awarded with ‘Compulsory Retirement’ for a SPAD with no accident and consequences.  Feeling aggrieved by this inhuman punitive action of dumping a man for long 21 years, the workers of Trivandrum division decided to stand still in silence for 5 minutes on 31st March, 2015.
                        Thanking you,                                                                                                                                                                                                           Yours faithfully

Ernakulam,                                                                                          L.  MONY,  23.03.2015.                                                                               Central President /  AILRSA.

Encl: 1. GIST of recommendations pertaining to Running staff by various Committees.
            2. List of Loco Pilots removed in different divisions of Indian Railways.


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