Railways says Rahul Gandhi met drivers from outside, 'We have similar issues,' counter Unions

Various loco pilots' associations whose members were present in the lobby during Gandhi's visit countered the CPRO's statement.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: The train drivers' unions have countered Railways' claim that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi met loco pilots who were not from the Delhi Division and were brought from outside.

On Friday, after Gandhi visited the loco pilots' crew lobby at the New Delhi Railway Station, the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) of Northern Railway (NR) under which the Delhi Division falls, said that it looked like Gandhi met loco pilots who were not from crew lobby of the New Delhi Railway Station.

"It looks like they were brought from outside," Deepak Kumar, CPRO, NR, said.

Gandhi visited the crew lobby at the station and spoke to some loco-pilots to know their problems and challenges.

Various loco pilots' associations whose members were present in the lobby during Gandhi's visit countered the CPRO's statement and said that it was immaterial to focus on loco pilots' divisions and zones of work as long as they have similar grievances.

"I want to submit humbly that Mr Gandhi interacted with loco pilots from various rail divisions and not only with those who were from Delhi," R Kumaresan, President of the South Zone of the All India Loco Running Staff Association, who played a crucial role in organising this interaction between Gandhi and loco pilots, said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi
Train drivers draw Rahul Gandhi's attention to 'serious safety issues' in Railways

He added, "Mr Gandhi visited the crew lobby and in the same building there is a running room also for pilots who come from outside to take rest. He spoke to everyone irrespective of which divisions they come from."

Kamlesh Singh, Central Treasurer of the Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO), who was present during Gandhi's visit, said that loco pilots across all rail networks face similar challenges and have similar grievances.

"Whether it is about long duty hours, denial of weekly rest or lack of washroom and lunch break, these are common issues that all train drivers face across the divisions and zones. So this doesn't merit an issue whether he met a loco pilot of Delhi Division or some other divisions," Singh said.

IRLRO's Working President Sanjay Pandhi said that at all Running rooms of Indian Railways, only loco running staff from other stations rest.

"An MP, who is also a leader of the opposition can meet anyone anywhere including all railway employees," Pandhi said.

Kumaresan clarified that Gandhi didn't enter the running room as this would have disturbed loco-pilots who were taking rest before their next shift.

Loco pilots also said that the Railway Ministry sent its officials to meet and attend to the grievances of train drivers after the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi met them.

"After Mr Gandhi left, officials of the Railway ministry visited us at the New Delhi Railway Station to attend to our grievances," Singh said.

Singh added that it was the first time that any official from the Railway Board showed such a prompt response to their problems.

"We shared the same issues with the official which we shared with Mr Gandhi. Long duty hours leading to work stress and no washroom and lunch break while being on train driving duty are some of our problems which we shared with Mr Gandhi and Railway Ministry's officials," Singh said.

According to Kumaresan, the issues they shared with Mr Gandhi were already known to the Ministry as the loco associations have regularly written to it.

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