TODAY'S PAPER » NATIONAL » TAMIL NADU
CHENNAI, February 27, 2013
More trains with existing manpower will impact safety
Staff say Budget is against spirit of Kakodkar panel recommendations
The absence of a roadmap in the Railway Budget 2013-14 for improving zonal-level maintenance infrastructure or a clear plan to fill up safety-related vacancies has rankled railwaymen.
Railway trade union leaders feel that introducing newer trains — Southern Railway got 17 new express trains — or increasing frequency of existing trains without modernising facilities at maintenance depots/carriage works or adding manpower would seriously compromise the Railway’s core principle of passenger safety.
“The Budget goes against the spirit of the Kakodkar Committee recommendations to put upgrading of existing infrastructure over the populism of introducing more and more new trains,” said V. Balachandran, All India Loco Running Staff Association divisional secretary.
The AILRSA has been demanding filling up of loco pilot vacancies and sanctioning assistant loco pilots for suburban trains too taking into account the increased workload.
N. Kanniah, general secretary of the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU), pointed out that Southern Railway had been allotted virtually the same amount of Rs. 82 crore for primary maintenance in workshops and Rs. 52 crore for secondary maintenance in carriage and wagon depots.
This was despite the fact that costs of spares had been going up by between 10 and 30 per cent as a result of which the required quantity of spares could not be procured, he said.
The manpower shortage had also turned acute due to the non-filling of vacancies. Moreover, the increase in Periodic Overhaul periods from 12 to 18 months had aggravated wear and tear of coaches/wagons, Mr. Kanniah said.
Railwaymen warn that trying to operate more train services with the existing staff strength would put the already over-stretched resources, which would have a direct bearing on passenger safety.
The new express trains announced in the Budget include Bikaner-Chennai AC Express (weekly), Howrah-Chennai AC Express (bi-weekly) Chennai-Karaikudi (weekly), Chennai-Palani (daily), Chennai Egmore-Thanjavur (daily), Chennai-Nagarsol (weekly), Chennai-Velankanni (daily), Coimbatore-Rameswaram (weekly) and Nagercoil-Bangalore (daily).
The Budget also envisages the extension of 10 trains including the Chennai-Madurai portion of Chennai-Guruvayur Express to Tuticorin; Chennai-Tiruchchi Express to Karaikudi; Guwahati-Ernakulam Express to Thiruvananthapuram; Mangalore – Tiruchi Express to Puducherry; Bangalore-Nagore Passenger to Karaikal; Madurai-Kollam Passenger to Punalur; Ernakulam-Thrisur MEMU to Palakkad; Kollam-Nagarcoil MEMU to Kanyakumari; Karaikudi-Manamadurai DEMU to Virudhanagar and Madurai-Dindigul Passenger to Palani.
The frequency of six services has been increased for trains including the Coimbatore-Tirupati Express 3 to 4 days (after gauge conversion), Madurai – Dehradun/Chandigarh Express 1 to 2 days, Kanyakumari-Tirunelveli Passenger from 6 to 7 days, Nagercoil – Kanyakumari Passenger 6 to 7 days and the Tirunelveli - Nagercoil Passenger 6 to 7 days.
· Association has been demanding filling
of loco pilot vacancies
· They also say there is no increase in funds for maintenance