With loco pilots threatening to launch a countrywide campaign, train operations are likely to be adversely impacted in the coming months.
The provocation comes from the recommendations of the DP Tripathi committee set up in 2010 to review the duty hours and period of rest rules of train drivers. The committee submitted its report on Wednesday.
“Recommendations are cleverly worded, but the duty hours have been left unchanged at 13 hours. The committee also recommends 40 hours of weekly rest for loco pilots, although the Karnataka HC has already ruled 46 hours rest period for drivers”, said Sanjay Pandhi, Central Working President of the Indian Railways Loco Running men Organization (IRLRO).
Approximately 18% short of its sanctioned strength, the over-worked lot of train drivers have been demanding that eight hours of work be stipulated for them in accordance with the International Labor Organization convention.
The Tripathi committee recommends the installation of “automatic signaling systems” across the railways network for enabling faster movement of trains on a single track. “Indian Railways do not have the human assets or training processes to accommodate high technology of such nature on a massive scale. If this recommendation is accepted, the number of accidents is likely to increase,” Pandhi warned.
Majority of train accidents reported in past years have been caused by “human error” and a substantial number of these have been reported during night.
However, the Tripathi committee has recommended reduction in night hour duty allowance for drivers. “This is a regressive recommendation”, an IRLRO functionary said.