Loco Pilots relieved as punishment for ‘signal jumping’ is reduced

SAPD is an occupational hazard. No pilot intentionally passes signal at danger: All India Loco Running Staff Association

MANGALURU: Loco pilots across the country have heaved a sigh of relief after the Ministry of Railways relaxed punishment for Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) within the block/signal overlap, from summary dismissal to reduction to a lower grade last month.

“The pilots constantly work under stress and the summary dismissal from service for any SPAD amounted to capital punishment,” said All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA).

Irrespective of reasons for SPAD, whether the pilot’s fault or contributory reasons namely, non-functional brakes or signal malfunctioning, loco pilot and assistant loco pilots were subjected to removal from service earlier. However, the Ministry on January 8 issued guiding norms for imposition of punishment on loco and assistant loco pilots for SPAD in suppression of previous instructions.

Removal or compulsory retirement from service in the revised guidelines is prescribed only when the distance travelled beyond the stop signal was more than the signal overlap.

If the pilot during the inquiry proves that the SPAD was not due to his negligence, the punishment could be reviewed after two years, the guidelines say.

AILRSA has constantly been advocating that no loco pilot commits SPAD intentionally puts the life of passengers and his life at stake.

It was also highly critical of punishment to assistant LP saying his duty was only to caution the pilot about signals and other issues and he comes to know SPAD only after the locomotive passes the signal before he applies emergency brakes.

The association said SAPD is an occupational hazard which every kind of job in the world has and that did not attract capital punishment for loco pilot alone.

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