Railway Board gives green signal to hire additional 1103 Assistant Loco Pilots for SWR Zone

A spate of train accidents across the country has increased the ALPs hiring across the country to 18799, thrice the number planned originally.
Railway Board gives green signal to hire additional 1103 Assistant Loco Pilots for SWR Zone
Express illustrations

Bengaluru: The Railway Board has on Tuesday given the green signal for hiring an additional 1103 Assistant Loco Pilots (ALPs) across the South Western Railway Zone.

This is in addition to the 473 ALP vacancies which it had given its nod for filling up earlier, thereby bringing the total new ALPs to be hired to 1576 now.

The spate of accidents including the recent accident involving the Kanchanjunga Express on June 17 allegedly due to human error appears to have prompted the quick response.

It has also approved a total of 18799 vacancies in the 16 zones across the country, a big jump over the 5,696 ALP vacancies it had notified earlier for appointment.  

K C James, Secretary General, AILRSA, had written to the Chairman and CEO of Railway Board on January 20, 2024 on the need for speeding up the recruitment process for ALPs specifying that 5696 ALPs were not enough for Indian Railways.

"Crew are overburdened due to shortage of staff. They are being forced to work more than 12 to 20 hours at a stretch. Weekly rest was denied massively. Leave for unavoidable necessities was denied," the letter said.

While the process of hiring 473 ALPs has already commenced in SWR Zone, the letter asked all the Zonal Railways to take immediate action for processing the revised indent for enhanced vacancies within a week.

Southern Railway has 726 vacancies approved in the new order (up from 218 earlier) while South Central Railway has the maximum vacancies approved of 1949 (as against 585 approved earlier).

C Sunish, Secretary of All India Loco Running Staff Association told TNIE, "Our Association's stand stands vindicated today. We had repeatedly impressed upon the Railways the need to hire more ALPs. The acute shortage forced the limited ALPs to work many extra hours endangering  the safety of all."

Asked about the reason for the sudden move, Sunish added, "One of the reasons could be the spate of railway accidents recently. It has probably made them  realise that there is a need to recruit more drivers in the interest of the safety of all."

Sunish also said that SWR train drivers plan to avail the weekly 30-hr Periodical Rest they are entitled to on their own shortly. "We presently get a 16-hour break after every round trip when we return to the Headquarters but do not have any weekly offs. We plan to start taking them like how it has been done by loco pilots of Southern Railway," he added.

The Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) Bangalore has in its order dated October 22, 2001, stated that Railway staff are entitled to their Periodical Rest. However, if it overlaps with the Headquarter rest, the payment of compensation would be twice the normal rate.

"The Railway Administration shall decide on the modalities and implement them so as to ensure that no running staff over work even if he desires to, on his own volition," the order stated.

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