Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Railways to go tough with locopilots

DC | Krishna Kumar K E | April 28, 2015,
Representational image
Representational image
Kochi: It seems the railway officers are much worried about the notorious “drinking habits” of  Keralites!
Insisting that alcohol consumption is more in the state than in the rest of the country, the railway officers say they have no option but to insist on subjecting locopilots  to detailed alcohol testing.
“The problem is more acute in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions than in other divisions. I’m not saying they drink while on duty but would be suffering from drinking hangover. In the ‘passive’ mode of breath analyser test, we can’t find out if a person has drunk  three hours before testing. This is why we insist on ‘active’ mode which could detect whether a locopilot  still has  the hangover,” said a senior railway officer on  condition of anonymity.
On Sunday, locopilots attached to the Ernakulam region went on a flash strike after refusing to undergo ‘active’ mode of alcohol breath analyser test. While the ‘passive’ mode is relatively simple, the ‘active’ mode requires a person to blow into a straw for over 10 seconds.
Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Sunil Bajpai said there were instances when locopilots had tested positive for alcohol consumption and were barred from duty in the division.
“The row on Sunday was stirred after a locopilot refused to undergo the test.” The railway officer  said there were 53 signal pass offences (jumping red signal which may result in disasters) in the division in the last three years. “This calls for stringent alcohol test,” he said.
Mr M. Mony, national president, All-India Loco-pilots Association, however, claimed none of the offenders had tested positive for boozing. “In ‘active’ mode, they use the same straw again and again. That’s why we oppose the test,” he said.
Now a solution lies in changing the straw after each test. “This should be exactly the topic of discussions now. While the locopilots in the rest of the country are ready to undergo the ‘active’ mode test, why are the staff section in the two divisions (Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad) refusing?” said Mr M.K. Gopinath, Public Relations Officer, Palakkad division.
A crucial meet between the locopilots’ representatives and the general manager, Southern Railways, is scheduled to be held at Chennai on Tuesday on the issue.

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