Hundreds of Railway employees took out a protest march against the alleged move by the Railways to shut down the diesel loco shed at the Ernakulam Junction station here on Monday. This diesel shed which was set up in 1982 is Kerala’s only diesel engine maintenance facility. The shed handles at least six diesel engines, including the engines of trains travelling through unelectrified routes such as the Konkon Railways and Palakkad along with a few places in Thiruvanthapuram.
SRMU divisional president P Unnikrishnan, who inaugurated the protest at the diesel loco shed, said the Southern Railways General Manager has already submitted a proposal to the Railway Board to set up an AC loco shed for electric engines in lieu of the existing diesel shed. The 20-crore project, a proposal made by the Southern Railways General Manager to the Railway Board, if sanctioned will be a major threat to the 350 employees working at the diesel shed as the staff strength would be reduced to less than half of the current one. He said that the move was political in nature as there are talks to set up a diesel loco shed at Mangalore instead. “We have no issues against the setting up of an AC loco shed. However, the diesel loco shed should be maintained in its place,” he said.
He added that it was the responsibility of the management to take the employees into confidence. We demand that the management either withdraw the move or hold talks with us in this regard to allay the fears of the employees, he added.
Meanwhile, fearing further agitations from the side of the employees, Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer said that no move to close down the shed will be taken in the near future. Union members said that they would continue the agitations if they feel that they are not taken into confidence prior to the move.