Alcohol-related issues shift focus on ‘over-stressed’ train drivers of Indian Railways
Approximately, 15% of the train drivers failed the alcohol test at the end of their journey, as reported by Hindustan Times. This means that passenger lives were put to huge risks in such cases.india Updated: Apr 05, 2017 07:30 IST
Are train drivers over-stressed? Focus is on this question following revelations about a spike in alcohol-related issues among train drivers. Altogether 281 loco pilots failed the alcohol tests between 2012 and 2016.
Approximately, 15% of the train drivers failed the alcohol test at the end of their journey, as reported by Hindustan Times. This means that passenger lives were put to huge risks in such cases.
While work pressure can hardly provide justification for drunk driving, these cases have raised a question mark on the neglect of critical HR issues by the state-owned transporter.
Staff crunch has remained a cause for big worry. Against the sanctioned strength of 81,000 loco pilots, approximately 16,000 are on rolls – the vacancy position being 19.2%, official records show.
An even more disturbing fact is that approximately 5,000 loco pilots have remained deployed in stationary duties across the 67 divisions of the Indian Railways – employed as computer operators, bill clerks, typists, bungalow clerks, jeep drivers or gardeners.
“While new trains have rolled down the railway network in past decades, the shortage in cadre strength of loco pilots has continued. Each train driver on an average has been putting in approximately 10 hours of continuous duty without adequate hours for rest,” said Sanjay Pandhi of the Indian Railways Loco Running Men Organisation.
“The running rooms (resting places for train drivers during transit) are in a miserable state and subsidised food made available to them is often inedible,” Pandhi added.
Loco pilots of passenger – including Mail and Express trains – are also peeved with the 1998 Rail Board policy that empowers drivers of goods trains to function as their supervisors or crew controllers.
“Drivers of goods trains are junior-most and placed at the lowest rung of the cadre of loco pilots. “The Railways are the only organisation that permits juniors to supervise the work performance of their seniors,” a loco pilot complained.