Bengaluru loco pilots file petition for loos

Despite the Indian Railways in 2016 introduced bio-toilets in 2016, it has been implemented only in a few trains.
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose only

BENGALURU: Loco pilots (train drivers), who work six-eight hours at a stretch, are often forced to relieve themselves next to the tracks, as locomotive engines in India have no toilets. Women loco pilots have it worse, as they are forced to wait until they halt at a station to use a toilet, leading to serious health problems.

A petition asking Indian Railways to provide toilets inside the locomotive to better the working conditions of loco pilots has been signed by at least 10,806 people on The All India Loco Running Staff Association has also supported the demand.

The petition started by Suvamoy Pal reads, “As of now, we know that there is no locomotive in Indian Railways where a washroom is provided... If loco pilots ever have a need, they can attend the restroom at the next scheduled halt of the train in the SLR, which is the first coach just behind the locomotive.”

“If the SLR is sealed/locked, which is normal these days, the locomotive driver or assistant driver can use the restroom in the regular compartment following the locomotive. While waiting for the signal, they do it outside in the bushes or by the trackside. Now think of female loco pilots in this situation... One single washroom is not a place that needs a large area,” the petition added.

Sunish C, 54, has been a loco pilot for 30 years now. He is a member of the loco pilots’ association. He says that of the 2,100 loco pilots of South Western Railway, including assistant loco pilots, only 10-15 are women, precisely because of factors like lack of toilets. Women’s problems are compounded during their menstrual period, where they have nowhere to go to change their sanitary pads.

“99.99 per cent locomotives don’t have toilets. The announcement made by the Railways in 2016 wasn’t implemented, with the exception of a few trains where bio-toilets were set up. On an express train, we traverse at least 300km at a stretch, and even at stations, the engine is often far from platform toilets, so we cannot rely on using them in the few minutes we have,” Sunish said.

He says several representations have been made to the railway ministry, but to no avail. “Even the Human Rights Commission has recognised our need for toilets but we are yet to get the facility. It doesn’t take a lot of space, it just needs a tank and some space to build a toilet,” he said. 

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The New Indian Express