Railway station masters are forced to don the role of guards in trains allegedly in violation of safety rules.
The CITU-affiliated Dakshina Railway Employees Union (DREU) alleges that paucity of Mail/Goods/Passenger Guards is forcing the Railways to assign station masters the duty of manning trains.
“The job of a station master and that of a guard are completely different. A station master is not trained to do the job of a guard. Replacement of a guard by a station master involves serious violation of railway safety rules,” says K. Sasidharan, Divisional Secretary (Thiruvananthapuram Division) of DREU.
There are 202 railway guards in the Thiruvananthapuram division, which covers the area from Tirunelveli to Shoranur.
“In all, 40 posts of station masters and 35 posts of guards lie vacant. The number of trains is increasing every year. About 25 goods trains crisscross the State every day,” Mr. Sasidharan said.
On Wednesday, Chalakudy station manager T. Mohandas and Ernakulam North Station Manager K. V. Mathew performed the duty of guards in Ernakulam-Shoranur-Ernakulam passenger (648/649) and Ernakulam-Kayamkulam-Ernakulam passenger (335/336).
“In emergency situations, station masters can be assigned such duties. But on ordinary days, it is unfair to make them do so,” said Mr. Sasidharan.
1,560 posts vacant
He stated that 1,560 posts are lying vacant in Thiruananthapuram division. The sanctioned staff strength in Thiruvananthapuram division is 11,356.
“All vacant posts in the category of safety workers should be filled immediately,” he added.