Passengers of five trains, including two expresses, had to put up with detention of their trains for up to two hours following a flash strike by the locomotive pilots of Madurai Division over “increasing work burden” on Monday.

However, after negotiations with Divisional Railway Manager A.K. Rastogi and other senior officials, the pilots withdrew their strike. The pilots, owing allegiance to Southern Railway Mazdoor Union - Loco Running Staff, stopped running the trains in protest against the new roster (work schedule) proposed by the Madurai division. “Already the division is facing a shortage of 47 hands among the loco running staff. Instead of appointing additional passenger train loco pilots, the administration has prepared a roster that eats into our rest time and leave,” said its divisional secretary V. Ramkumar.

The new roster had been prepared to facilitate operation of three new trains introduced in the Tirunelveli-Shencottah section following completion of the gauge conversion work in the sector. Mr. Ramkumar said that the loco pilots who were getting night rest for every three/four days would get it only for every six days. “We wanted the administration to consider it on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Mr. Rastogi said that the headquarters had prepared the crew link with an objective of effectively utilising the loco pilots. However, since they have raised objection, the issue would be settled through negotiations, he said.

The Guruvayur-Chennai Guruvayur Express was detained for nearly two hours in Madurai. Other trains that suffered detention were Nagercoil-Mumbai Express (25 minutes), Nagercoil-Coimbatore passenger, Coimbatore-Nagercoil passenger, and Madurai-Shencottah passenger.

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