NEW DELHI: In a bid to address the problem of stressed and overworked loco pilots, the railways has now decided to meet their families and counsel them on the need of their proper rest at home. This direction comes in the wake of several accidents and derailments in past few months and majority of them due to human error.
In a direction issued to all 17 zonal railways, Railway Board has listed about 35 steps under the prevention of accidents to be followed during train operation, loco maintenance and general instruction to attain ‘Zero Accident’ regime.
With 16464 posts of loco pilots lying vacant, concerns have been raised overworked loco pilots.
The directions issued after the Utkal Express derailment on August 19 clearly calls for close monitoring of duty hours and ensuring periodical rests to loco pilots.
“Ensure that all loco running staff booked to work trains have availed full rest as prescribed at home station and out station. No under rest crew shall be booked for working trains except in emergency conditions,” said the directions.
It also calls for increased interaction with family members of the crew for bringing about an awareness of the need for proper rest at the home station.
“No running staff booked for safety training, refresher course or any mandatory training should be booked to work trains. Pamphlets should be issued, in lines of safety bulletins, narrating accident cases and action to be taken by Crew to avoid Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD),” said the directions.
A parliamentary standing committee on railways in its latest report on safety and security in railways had observed that loco pilots are required to work for cumulative 104 hours in a fortnight and their running duty at a stretch ordinarily should not exceed 10 hours but sometimes they are required to work beyond stipulated duty hours due to operational exigencies.
The board has also asked the zonal railways to prepare safety action plans according to local need and report the same. They have also been asked that details of all incidents of safety cases on railways shall be collected and causes of failures are analysed and discussed in all training centres and crew counselled by nominated loco inspectors accordingly.
Other instructions include avoiding the use of mobile phones during duty hours and running staff be asked to avoid the tendency of packing their personal belongings while approaching the termination stations.