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Avg duty hours under 8 hours in June: Vaishnaw on loco pilot controversy

Accuses Rahul Gandhi of attempting to demoralise Indian Railways

Ashwini Vaishnaw, Ashwini, Vaishnaw, Railway minister

Dhruvaksh Saha New Delhi

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Days after Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi spoke on the working conditions of loco pilots of Indian Railways, Union minister of railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that duty hours and working conditions of the crew are within the established norms.

“Duty hours of loco pilots are carefully monitored. Rest is provided meticulously after trips. The average duty hours are maintained within prescribed hours. The average is less than 8 hours in the month of June this year. Only under exigencies does the trip duration exceed the prescribed hours,” the minister said in a post on social media platform X on Wednesday.

The minister also claimed that the opposition is “trying to demoralise the rail family with fake news.” Earlier this month, Gandhi met loco pilots of Indian Railways and said that they were not being treated properly and were being made to work extra hours.

"Deprived of even basic facilities like urinals, loco pilots have no limit on working hours, and they do not get any leave. Due to this, they are becoming physically and mentally exhausted and ill. In such circumstances, making loco pilots drive the train means putting their lives and those of the passengers at risk," he had said.

Gandhi’s remarks are not new. In the past, several railway unions and former officials have been raising to the ministry of railways that loco pilots are working under stressful conditions, which compromises rail safety.

The minister also said that working conditions have improved significantly under the present regime.

“Pilots operate locomotives from loco cabs. Before 2014, cabs were in very bad shape. Since 2014, cabs have been improved with ergonomic seats, and more than 7,000 loco cabs are air-conditioned. New locomotives are manufactured with AC cabs. When pilots complete a trip, they come to the running room for rest if they are out of headquarters. Before 2014, running rooms were in very bad shape. Almost all (558) running rooms are now air-conditioned,” he said.

He added that in the past few years, a major recruitment exercise was completed and 34,000 running staff have been recruited. The recruitment process for 18,000 running staff is currently in progress.

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First Published: Jul 10 2024 | 9:46 PM IST

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