As hilarious as it may sound, the incident has raked up a debate among public pertaining to the safety issues in Indian Railways and the way the employees could be overworked. Even though it is to be ascertained whether the gateman was drunk or fell asleep due to exhaustion, the fact that it jeopardised the smooth functioning of the train is a point to be noted.
According to a report by the Bangalore Mirror, the incident took place at around 1:20 am between Belgaum and Desur. It is said that when the loco pilot did not receive any signal from the railway gate, the assistant loco pilot went near the gate to check what the matter was. There, he found that the gateman was fast asleep. The gate was closed by the assistant loco pilot and the train began to move. The guard at the end of the train reopened the gate for public and the loco pilot reported the incident to the authorities in the next station.
Taking the incident seriously, the railway department has initiated an inquiry and the gateman has been placed under suspension pending inquiry. A senior officer informed, "A report on the incident has been submitted to all concerned and the inquiry is likely to be complete in a week’s time."
Another aspect comes to light
In an article published by the New Indian Express, it has been reported that the railways will now provide counselling for the families of overworked loco staff. The directions come in the wake of several derailments and accidents. With close to 16464 posts lying vacant in the Indian Railways, the pressure on the existing staff is beyond capacity. According to the directions given by the Indian Railways, "Ensure that all loco running staff booked to work trains have availed full rest
as prescribed at home station and out station. No under rest crew shall be booked for working trains except in emergency
Another direction said, "No running staff booked for safety training, refresher course or any mandatory training should be booked to work trains. Pamphlets should be issued, in lines of safety bulletins, narrating accident cases and action to be taken by Crew to avoid Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD)."
A parliamentary standing committee on railways in its latest report on safety and security in railways had observed that loco pilots are required to work for cumulative 104 hours in a fortnight and their running duty at a stretch ordinarily should not exceed 10 hours but sometimes they are required to work beyond stipulated duty hours due to operational exigencies.