Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Siddharth Prabhakar| TNN | Updated: Aug 26, 2017,

Chennai: The recent derailment of Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh on August 19 where over 20 people died has forced the railway board to do a re-think on the rest provided to engine drivers, known as loco-pilots in railway parlance. This is to ensure that safety of passenger trains is not compromised due to over-worked pilots.

In an internal communication sent to all railway zones, the board has directed that the duty hours of loco-pilots must be monitored to ensure that they get adequate rest. Those who are under rest should not be booked for operating trains except in emergency conditions, the directive stated.

The board has also insisted on co-ordinating with the families of loco-running staff so that they are sensitised on the need for giving them peace of mind when they are taking rest.

"This is a key issue as far as railway safety is concerned. The over-time money payable to loco-pilots is sizeable for which loco-pilots exert themselves. In some cases, the officials also over-exert the pilots as there is huge demand for trains. Over-worked pilots can cause miss signals (Signal Passing At Danger) or fail to remain vigilant because of which accidents could happen," said a senior railway official.

Apart from this, the board directive has also asked departments to study all accidents in detail and discuss the analysis in all training centres so that train-running crew can be counselled properly. Written material should be distributed among the crew regarding the safety measures, the board has directed.

The training should also focus on minimisation of Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD), which is the major reason for accidents. Data shows that 60% of SPAD cases in the last four years have happened in passenger trains, which is an alarming statistic.

The board has also directed that any loco-pilot who has an overdue Periodical Medical Examination (PME), safety training, refresher course or any other mandatory training should not be given an on-train duty.

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