Madurai MP asks rly min to reduce working hours of loco pilots

The MP wrote a letter to the minister with the backdrop of the recent train collisions.
Madurai MP Su Venkatesan.
Madurai MP Su Venkatesan. (File Photo)

MADURAI : Stating that the loco pilots associated with the southern railway are overworked, which in turn jeopardises the safety of passengers, Madurai MP S Venkatesan has appealed to Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw to resolve the issue. The MP wrote a letter to the minister with the backdrop of the recent train collisions.

In his letter, MP Venkatesan said that recent accidents in Indian railways, apart from other issues, have highlighted the abysmal working conditions of loco pilots. "It has been observed that they, mostly freight train loco pilots, work for 14 to 16 hours a day and return home after three or four days," he said.

Running duty at a stretch 105 years after the international labour organisation (ILO) convention fought for an eight-hour duty a day and a weekly off. The railway board in its order dated July 15, 1968, stated that duty of a running staff from sign on should not exceed 14 hours. The railway labour tribunal, in 1969, recommended that duty at a stretch should not exceed 10 hours, but may extend to 12 hours provided a two-hour notice is given to the loco pilot before the expiration of 10 hours, added Venkatesan's letter.

Venkatesan also highlighted the report of the commissioner for railway safety on the Visakhapatnam collision accident, where the official called four consecutive nights of work unsafe. "He recommended that the consecutive nights be limited to two. For the safety of loco pilots and passengers, southern railway loco pilots are demanding to limit the duty to two consecutive days. All staff are entitled to a weekly off, but loco pilots are exempted from this. They must be given 30 consecutive hours of rest four times a month," he said.

"In the southern railway, many loco pilots who failed to follow safety norms are being penalised by transfers, suspension, and others. I request you to kindly intervene and ensure safety by eliminating human failure as a cause, apart from directing the general manager to negotiate with the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) leaders," said Venkatesan.

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