‘It is only educative and there was no intention to show them in bad light’
A booklet with graphic representations brought out by the safety department of the South Western Railway, Bangalore Division, to create safety awareness among loco pilots and station masters appears to have offended loco pilots and station masters.
The booklet comes in the wake of the May 22, 2012 Hampi Express accident at Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh that claimed 25 lives. The Commissioner of Railway Safety had, after an inquiry, held the loco pilot and the station master of Penukonda Railway Station responsible for accident.
While the loco pilot was charged with jumping the caution signal, the station master was charged with setting points towards the line occupied by a stationary goods train.
The caricatures show the family members of a loco pilot persuading him to go for shopping at a time when he was supposed to take rest after his shift. After the loco pilot leaves home for duty, his wife comes to know about the Penukonda accident and is worried whether it was the same train driven by her husband. However, her husband returns home safely after two days as he was driving another train at the time.
The caricatures go on to discuss safety aspects with opinions from experts who say that the Penukonda accident was due to the negligence of the loco pilot as well as the station master. The expert in the caricatures says that proper rest is a must for loco pilots.
However, the All India Loco Running Staff Association, South Western Railway, has taken objection to these caricatures saying that they paint loco pilots and their families in bad picture. All the railway zones should have implemented the recommendations of the Railway Board towards enhancing the comfort levels of loco pilots and providing adequate rest to them to help avoid Signal Passing At Danger.
The South Western Railway instead is blaming loco pilots and their families for accidents, the association regretted. It also pointed out that many posts of loco pilots are lying vacant as a result of which railway divisions are extending the working hours of loco pilots.
Sources in the South Western Railway said that the authorities did not intend to put loco pilots and their families in bad light. The literature is only educative and is aimed at enhancing awareness among loco pilots, station masters and their families about the safety of passengers, the sources said.
“Very few people read through printed letters, be it rules or guidelines. Hence, we thought about pictorial depiction of an incident to draw their attention. If the association has reacted, it is good as the loco pilots have gone through the material,” the sources said.
They also said that the Penukonda accident was purely because of the negligence of the loco pilot and the station master. The loco pilot had reportedly spent the entire day of his rest attending to domestic work and reported back to duty without having had any rest. Clearly, he was fatigued when the train crossed the signal at danger, the sources said.