Since April 2011, as many as 240 accidents happened across the railway network due to drivers jumping signals by mistake. Every time, the drivers cited lack of rest and overwork as the reason behind their lapse.
Now, in a fresh analysis of the accidents that looked into the profiles of the erring drivers, the Railway ministry has found that 70 per cent of those accidents involved drivers who had worked for only six hours or less, while 65 per cent were by those who had availed what is known as “complete headquarters rest”.
The findings have thrown the ball in the court of the policy makers in Rail Bhawan since it means that drivers are committing potentially fatal errors despite getting adequate rest and are not being overworked.
Interestingly, in maximum cases, the drivers involved were in the age group of 40-45 years, who are considered adequately experienced.
Reacting to the findings, the Railways says that the only way out now is to try and eliminate the scope of fatal human error in running of trains. “If human error keeps happening, then the only solution for us is to bring in technologies to aid the drivers and stop the scope of such errors. We are ascertaining what kind of technology to deploy,” Devi Prasad Pande, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, told The Indian Express.
Railway unions are usually up in arms against the Railways accusing the national transporter of not giving adequate rest to the drivers, which, they claim, is the chief reason behind accidents due to signal passing at danger (SPAD).
A committee to review duty hours of running staff in the Railways had last year recommended duty hours of nine hours, and in exceptional cases not beyond 11 hours.
The analysis has shown that 84 per cent of the accidents were caused by experienced drivers.
In the light of the findings, the ministry has asked all zonal railways to implement prescribed punishment norms in cases of the SPAD.