Friday, December 18, 2015

By Sridhar Vivan, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Dec 15, 2015, 

If you think the mobile phone menace starts at ends with drivers of vehicles then think again. The dangers of talking on your phone while in control of a moving object now extend to trains too.

The Ministry of Railways has admitted to rail accidents due to loco pilots talking on their phones. At least two major rail accidents in the recent past have been attributed to "mobile phone driving" and there is also a proposal before the railway ministry to install jammers in the loco pilot cabin to prevent the accidents in the future. This is the first time the railway has publicly acknowledged the cause of these accidents.

According to Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha: "In the last few years, there have been two major accidents where the use of a closed user group phone by loco pilots has been noticed. The accidents were collision of 66017 Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment MEMU train with rear end of 56007 Aakkonam-Katpadi Passenger train between Arakkonam West Cabin and Chitteri stations at Arakkonam-Katpadi Electrified Double in Chennai Division at 9.23 pm on September 13, 2011; and a head-on-collision between 1125 Inter City Express and an empty BCN goods train at Badarwas Station which occurred at 4.45 am on September 20, 2010 in Bhopal division of West Central Railway."

Railway sources said that though these were the major railway accidents in the last few years, there have been many instances in the recent past where loco pilots have been constantly warned about using mobile phones while driving.

Many lives have been lost in these accidents too. For example, in the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment MEMU accident nine died and 100 were injured. In the case of the Indore-Gwalior train collision, 23 people died and 30 were seriously injured.

Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, an official from the Bengaluru's Commissioner of Railway Safety office said, "We too get such complaints often. During a recent investigation, we noticed negligence on the part of the loco pilot as he was found to be using a mobile phone during the train accident. Unlike roads, mobile phone usage can be really dangerous in trains as even the slightest mistake of the loco pilot can result in death of thousands of passengers. So, we sent a recommendation to the railways stating that as keeping a close watch on loco pilots could be difficult, it would be better to install jammers in the cabin."

MoS Sinha said that both the loco pilots and assistant loco pilots have been instructed not to use their mobile phones while on duty [while driving]. Not just that, railways are also conducting random checks to ensure the loco pilots are not using mobile phones.


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