Duty hours of loco pilots monitored, rest provided after trips: Railway Minister

Ashwini Vaishnaw says there had been a lot of theatrics by the Opposition parties to demotivate loco pilots 

Published - July 10, 2024 09:48 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said there had been a lot of theatrics by the Opposition parties to demotivate train loco pilots. File

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said there had been a lot of theatrics by the Opposition parties to demotivate train loco pilots. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on July 10 that there had been a lot of theatrics by the Opposition parties to demotivate train loco pilots. 

Mr. Vaishnaw said on X, “Duty hours of loco pilots are carefully monitored, and rest is provided meticulously after trips. The average duty hours are less than eight hours in June. Only under exigencies, the trip duration exceeds prescribed hours.”

Mr. Vaishnaw’s clarifications come in light of Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with loco pilots, weeks after the Kanchanjunga Express train accident in West Bengal claimed lives of at least 10 persons.

Also Read | Railways says Rahul Gandhi met drivers from outside, ‘we have similar issues,’ counter Unions

Mr. Gandhi had stated earlier on X that many loco pilots had complained about long working hours and double duties.

Safety concerns

Safety concerns were raised after major train accidents like that of Kanchanjunga Express and Balasore train accident last year, which claimed over 290 lives. According to a Right to Information (RTI) reply, between July 7, 2021, and June 17, 2024, 131 train accidents took place, of which 92 were derailments. “In these derailments, 64 were passenger carrying trains and 28 were goods trains,” the RTI plea filed by Maharashtra-based activist Ajoy Bose stated. 

Also Read | Railways, loco pilots lock horns over working hours

Mr. Vaishnaw said loco pilots operate train locomotives from loco cabs. “Before 2014, cabs were in a bad shape. Now, cabs have been improved with ergonomic seats and more than 7,000 loco cabs are air-conditioned. New locomotives are manufactured with AC cabs.”

What does India need to do to make its railways safer? | In Focus podcast 

He also mentioned that off-duty resting facilities of loco pilots have been improved and almost all (558) rooms are now air-conditioned. “In many running rooms, foot massagers are also provided. Incidentally this was criticised by the Congress without understanding the working of loco pilots,” said Mr. Vaishnaw. 

The Minister said a major drive for recruitment was completed and 34,000 running staff had been recruited. “Recruitment for 18,000 running staff is currently in process,” he said. 

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