Lack of sanitation facilities to Indian Railway women workers during duty hours

by Vimla M, Purogami Mahila Sangathan

The central government is opening up jobs to women as assistant loco pilots in the Railways. The Railway Ministry has handed over many railway stations in the country to women. Currently, more than 2,000 women are running trains. But there has been no thought given to the basic sanitation needs of women. Toilets have not been provided in the engines of trains.

The rules are so harsh that loco pilots (Engine drivers) cannot leave the engine. Drivers are not even allowed to get down at stoppages of only two or three minutes. Loco pilots routinely do a continuous duty of 10 to 12 hours. In winter, trains can get delayed by up to 36 hours due to fog.

IRLO coordinator Sanjay Pandhi said that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had asked the Ministry of Railways in 2013-14 to install toilets and ACs in train engines, but the Railways did not implement it. The Railway Ministry spokesperson has been questioned about this many times but these demands have fallen on deaf ears.

To desperately cope with the situation, women drivers are compelled to wear sanitary pads, while men are compelled to carry bottles. The basic demands of loco pilots are very legitimate. We have good examples from countries across the world. For instance, in the UK, a loco pilot is given a 40-minute break between 3 to 4 hours in eight hours of duty. However “Modern” India seems to be high above these worldly issues!

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2 years ago

This is one more example of how people are made to work in inhuman conditions in this system. The Indian government refuses to learn from other nations that do make it a little easy for the workers to survive. I can only imagine what these loco pilots (both women & men) face on a daily basis let alone experience it first hand. This system never makes it easy for a woman to survive.

Sanjeewani Jain
Sanjeewani Jain
2 years ago

Thanks for this article. The conditions of all loco pilots are horrible. More so for the women. This impacts so many people – the loco pilots themselves in terms of their health, their families as well as the passengers whose safety depends on the well-being of the engine drivers. How can a government enterprise break rules with such impunity? One can only imagine what will be the condition if privatization occurs. And I guess this condition would have been the same irrespective of the government. We really need to strengthen our unity ad fight!