Roll Down of a goods train at Kathua and Victimisation and Dismissal from Service of the Loco Pilot, Assistant Loco Pilot, Station Master and a Pointsman

 

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent

 

On February 25, 2024, an unmanned freight train rolled down from Kathua Railway in Jammu, in the Northern Railway, for a distance of 84 kms before being finally halted.

The railway administration was quick to give the harshest punishment of removal from service under the Draconian D&A Rules 14/II of Indian Railways to 4 railway employees, namely a Loco Pilot, Assistant Loco Pilot, Station Master and a Pointsman. They were not even given a proper chance to represent themselves.

On investigation it is very clear that the incident was entirely caused due to the heavy pressure put on the railway employees by the administration, violating all the safety norms and standard procedures for safe stabling of loaded goods wagons.

53 goods wagons without a brake van (BV) and a brake power certificate (BPC) were allowed for ballast loading at Kathua Railway Station. Then the order was given for the ballast train to move, well knowing that the train doesn’t have BPC & BV and without arranging for a Train Manager (TM).

The train formation which was stabled in a siding with isolation was shunted to the main line, which doesn’t have isolation, without the supervision of the TM, while there was a single pointsman on duty. A multiple unit engine and a crew were wasted for 10 hours for this futile exercise to run the material train, violating all safety rules of working a material train. However, due to non- availability of clear line, the train was not able to move.

Though the loco pilot had finished his duty and because he resisted the blatant violation of safety rules in running the train, to wreak vengeance on him, he was ordered to go as pilot to an out station running room 80 kms away, while his headquarters station was just 20 km away. This vindictive decision of pilot movement was taken by the authorities, just 10 minutes before the arrival of the train in the direction of the running room.

The Loco Pilot (LP) was asked to shut down the loco and stable it within 5 minutes, whereas if all the proper procedures for stabling a train are carried out, it requires a minimum of 30 minutes. The train arrived in 8 minutes, LP reached the Station Maters (SM) office in 9 minutes & handed over the keys, while the train was detained for 5 minutes for the crew to board.

Such wanton disregard of safety norms is not an exception. For example the running staff of Northern Railway complain that the authorities even today force the crew to run trains on main line without connecting the Brake Pipes (BP) pipes. Brake pipes are used to stop the train and connect the engine to the brake van at the rear. The General and Subsidiary Rules (G&SR) of the Indian Railways specify that without requisite brake power, the train cannot be started. The AILRSA General Secretary, Northern Railway was himself booked for refusing to shunt a full formation of loaded petroleum tanker train without attaching the BP pipe.

Several questions arise from this incident which the loco running staff and rail workers are asking and which needs to be seriously looked into by the railway administration.

  1. When safety rules do not have the value of the paper in which they are printed, who is responsible for the Kathua accident of roll down?
  2. Who permitted to load the material train without BPC?
  3. Who permitted to order a material train without guard (Train Manager) and Brake Van?
  4. Who ordered shunting of a material train without the supervision of TM?
  5. Who ordered shutting down loco and stabling on mail line knowing fully well there was a gradient on that line?
  6. Who allowed to wreak vengeance against the crew and sent them to a running room 80 km away instead of their headquarter 20 Km away, that too forcing them to shut-down the loco and secure it within 8 minutes, threatening them of the consequences of delaying a passenger train?
  7. Who is responsible for posting a single pointsman where a full rake shunting being done?
  8. Who gave the power the DEE & Dom powers to misuse 14/ii of D&A Rules?

The loco pilots and station masters of the Indian Railways under the leadership of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) and All India Station Masters Association (AISMA) protested all over India on 5 March 2024 against the draconian punishment given to the loco pilots, station masters and pointsmen, of removal from service without even giving them a chance to give their opinion and without investigating the real causes of the accident which are given above.

 

 

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