Monday, July 3, 2017

Anil Kumar Sastry THE HINDU   MANGALURU , JULY 03, 2017

The All-India Loco Running Staff Association says loco pilots work in difficult, often suffocating, conditions.

The hard life of loco pilots is well documented. So when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced a ₹350-crore project to install CCTV cameras in all locomotives to enhance safety, the All-India Loco Running Staff Association wrote to the ministry urging it to address other more pressing issues to reduce worker fatigue. It listed reasons for accidents and flaws in operation revolving around the pilot’s comfort inside the cabin.

Mr. Prabhu had announced that around 10,000 locomotives would be fitted with five CCTV cameras each.

In the letter, the association has said that first on their list of requirements is windshield wipers of good quality, as a majority of the ones used now are dysfunctional. The second is better insulation of the loco pilot’s cabin. At present, a lot of noise, dust, heat and waste material enters the cabin. The association has suggested a partition between the engine room and the generator room besides cabin insulation.

It also wants the locomotive floor to be sealed in order to prevent dirt such as human excreta and animal carcass from entering the cabin. Air-conditioning of the cabin is another request as the cabin temperature, according to the association, is always 4-6C more than the ambient temperature.

Though a few electric locos are designed to be air-conditioned with proper sealing, the AC units are removed at maintenance sheds, making it a suffocating affair for the loco pilots.

The association has also suggested improvements to the cabin seats. It said a majority of loco maintenance sheds do not bother to clean the locomotives after servicing. Waste oil on the floor of the radiator room and compressor room may prove dangerous to the crew, the letter said.

Though successive committees have recommended improving the comfort of loco pilots, nothing concrete has been done yet, the association said, adding that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has asked all truck manufacturers to equip drivers’ cabins with AC.

Every action is recorded

Except video and audio records of the happenings inside a loco cab, everything else is already recorded when the locomotive is moving, say experienced loco pilots.

Locomotives are provided with an engine diagnostic system with on-board computer controls, and they record the operations of the loco pilot, including use of horn. The data can be transferred to another computer for evaluation.

The on-board vigilance control device (VCD) of all locomotives brings the engine to dead slow speed if the loco pilot does not make any move, including application of brake, blowing horns and pressing VCD button, for a certain amount of time, say from one to three minutes.


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