Bengaluru: The Bengaluru division of the South Western Railway (SWR) is facing a shortage of 500 maintenance staff, which is a crucial aspect, as extensive electrical, mechanical, signalling and telecom maintenance is undertaken on a daily basis by them.
Divisional Railway Manager Sanjiv Agarwal told that these workers were required for preventive and regular maintenance work. “They take up vital electrical, mechanical and signalling maintenance work apart from track maintenance. We are primarily interested in the safety of passengers and this is the reason why we have sent a proposal to the SWR to take up recruitment soon. I understand they are at it.”
Maintenance involves regular checking of devices and tracks to prevent mishaps and accidents. The inspection of tracks is to be taken up every day to serve as an early warning system in case there are issues with the tracks. Daily inspection is different from regular maintenance work. Both have to be taken up in their own time frameworks. The Bengaluru division has informed the South Western Railway headquarters in Hubballi to recruit people. “When there is a shortage of staff, we may have to outsource work in the form of contracts. It is good to have our own staff,” Agarwal said.
The Railway department focuses heavily on track maintenance because the health of the tracks is what keeps the train, the passengers and the loco staff safe. Recently, the Island Express derailed owing to a small crack in the track. If the crack had been detected earlier, the derailment and injuries to passengers could have been avoided. The crack demonstrated that minute checking of the track had not been carried out.Confidence in signalling is of paramount importance, hence the Signal and Telecom Department of the South Western Railway has taken up an intensive training and counselling programme for the maintenance staff. This is in addition to analysing the failure of equipment at a higher level, so that corrective action plan is taken to prevent recurrence of the problem. Safety checks, both preventive and regular checks, are carried out to ensure the safety of the passengers and freight traffic.
A senior railway official said safety checks included daily inspection of tracks and bridges, monsoon patrolling and regular track maintenance without affecting the punctuality of trains, manning of the level crossings, installation of warning boards and gate signals at level crossings, patrolling the track during calamities and civil unrest to ensure safety.