Faulty system of minor repairs in Indian Railways leads to death of three signalling staff of Western Railway

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent

On 22 January, three employees of the signal and telecom (S&T) department of the Mumbai Division of Western Railway were run over by a passing local train while repairing a signaling point and died on the spot. Rail workers blame the lacuna in the system of repairs of minor faults and hold the administration responsible for these tragic deaths.

Presently, in case of minor failures, such as point failure, the staff carry out repairs while trains are allowed to ply at speeds up to 40 kmph; often, the staff is forced to rectify the fault without following due process to avoid long delays. In comparison, major repairs are undertaken during mega blocks.

Shri Alok Chandra Prakash, National Secretary, Indian Railways S&T Maintainers’ Union, pointed out that in many instances, cases of signal failure and repair are not even recorded as minor work as there are a lot of processes that must be followed. “We have told the ministry about this unsafe practice. There is a need to have speed restrictions, and drivers must be informed about the work.”

Shri Prakash said improper work hours of S&T staff is another big issue. “Our staff are called at any time of the day and there are no fixed work hours. In this case, too, the employees were at home when they were called for emergency repair works,” he said and demanded that the Indian Railways must fill up pending vacancies at the earliest.

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