No toilet break during work, train drivers seek NHRC help
New Delhi: There are around 69,000 locomotive drivers for 19,000 trains in the country. However, these drivers complain they are working in cruel conditions and don’t get a break, even for few minutes, to eat something or to attend nature’s call. The engines where locomotive drivers have to be present for 12 hours do not have toilets for them.
The Indian Railway Loco Running Men’s Organization (IRLRO) said that conditions for drivers were inhumane and is leading to tremendous physical and mental stress, which could also be contributing to so many train accidents.
The railway board, however, believes that the drivers of trains – passenger, express, high speed and cargo – cannot be given a break in the interest of the public.
The IRLRO has already approached National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the issue. The matter is pending with the commission after the railway board informed the body that the demand of drivers cannot be fulfilled. Railways has claimed often that it was not feasible to authorise crew to halt a running train for taking refreshments and answer nature’s call as it may lead to unnecessary delays and adversely affect the operation of other trains.
“It’s only Indian Railways all over the world which denies basic human rights to its employees. These loco drivers hardly get a weekly off after driving the train continuously for 12 to 13 hours. According to the norms in different transportation systems – in road transport, a driver is allowed to take a break after five hours of driving on the road, in Delhi Metro, the train drivers are given 40 minutes break after every three hours. Similarly, airline pilots are also given regular breaks. In the case of train drivers, however, the breaks are of one or two minutes when the train stops at a platform. Can’t railway drivers even eat or go to toilet properly?” said S K Pandhi, working president of IRLRO.