Rahul Gandhi meets railways loco pilots, they complain of inadequate rest

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi on Friday met a group of Indian Railways loco pilots, who complained of "inadequate rest due to understaffing".
Rahul Gandhi with loco pilots
Rahul Gandhi with loco pilots

09:43 PM, 05 Jul 2024   615 Words  

New Delhi | Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi on Friday met a group of Indian Railways loco pilots, who complained of "inadequate rest due to understaffing".

Gandhi assured them that he would raise their issues in Parliament.

Gandhi met around 50 loco pilots from all over India at the New Delhi railway station in the afternoon and they explained to him their issues, party sources said.

Chiefly, the loco pilots complained of inadequate rest, they said. The loco pilots drive trains over long distances, far from home, and are often pressed into duty without adequate breaks, the sources said.

This causes great stress and lapses in concentration which is a major cause of accidents, they added.

This has been acknowledged by the Indian Railways in multiple reports, including the recent probe in the accident in Vishakapatnam, they further said.

The loco pilots demand a weekly rest of 46 hours, which means a train driver returning home on Friday afternoon will return to duty no later than Sunday morning.

The Railways Act 1989 and other rules already provide for 30+16 hours of rest per week, which is not being implemented, the sources alleged, adding that aeroplane pilots also typically get this much rest.

According to the party, the loco pilots demanded that two consecutive nights of duty should be followed by one night of rest, and trains should have basic amenities for drivers.

The lack of rest is caused by understaffing due to the government halting recruitment of loco pilots, the party sources claimed.

"Over the past four years, the Railways Recruitment Board has not recruited even a single loco pilot despite tens of thousands of vacancies," a party source claimed.

Gandhi assured the loco pilots that he has been consistently raising the issue of "railways' privatisation and lack of recruitment", the sources said, adding that the Congress leader listened to their concerns and supported their demand for adequate rest.

Gandhi expressed hope that this would significantly reduce accidents.

As LoP, he promised to take up their demands with the government, the sources said.

Since Gandhi undertook the over 4,000 km Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra from September 2022 to January 2023, he has held several interactions with a cross-section of society from mechanics to farmers and labourers.

Gandhi had met labourers here on Thursday and asserted that providing full rights and respect to those involved in manual labour is the mission of his life. He had met workers at Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar in Delhi and listened to their problems. Gandhi also did manual labour with them at a construction site.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also shared pictures from Rahul Gandhi's interaction with loco pilots.

"Loco pilots who run trains in Indian Railways work in very difficult conditions. Long distance trains, long hours of duty, no sleep, no rest, they work under stress and this also leads to accidents. There are more than three lakh vacancies in the railways. Thousands of loco pilot posts are also vacant. The BJP government is not making recruitments," she said in a post in Hindi on X.

The pilots fear that the Modi government is doing this deliberately with the aim of privatising the railways, she claimed.

"Rahul ji assured the loco pilots that he would raise their issue in Parliament as the leader of the Opposition," Priyanka Gandhi said.

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