As HC stays ESMA, Metro gets quick response team

Standby team to step in to run trains if staff go on strike

As HC stays ESMA, Metro gets quick response team
Days after the High Court of Karnataka stayed the enforcement of ESMA rules on Namma Metro staff, the BMRCL recently deployed a team of engineers who will act as a quick response team (QRT) in case of a strike.

Trains had come to a halt for seven hours in July after employees of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) staged a strike. In response, the state government invoked Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) to make them fall in line.

This is BMRCL’s second attempt to form a QRT. The management had tried to rope in Home Guards to operate trains and function as station controllers following the public outcry over disruption of metro services in July. However, the plan was dropped, considering that the Home Guards do not have a technical background.

Documents show that, in the beginning of September, BMRCL revived the idea. This time, 39 employees in executive and supervisory division were picked for the on-job training. “These are section engineers and assistant executive engineers from different sections. Their training intensified after the high court stayed the imposition of ESMA on Metro employees,” sources said.

The 39 trainees were split into two batches, with some learning operation of trains on the 40-km test tracks at Peenya and Baiyappanahalli depots. Others sat with station controllers in different stations.

“The trainees are doing double duty and work for nearly 12 hours a day. They continue working as engineers in rolling stock, signalling and other departments, besides training for three to four hours,” the sources said.

Commissioner for Railway Safety K A Manoharan said BMRCL can train and deploy other employees for train operation and other works. “There is a due process. As far as they are given training and get a competency certificate from BMRCL, it is not a problem. The certifying authority will be responsible for their competency,” he told DH.

The BMRCL document says the trainees will work for three hours every day. “The duration of training is 12 weeks. They have to continue performing their duty besides the training. The trainees get a stipend of Rs 5,000 per month. Those who prove their competency will get Rs 1,000 per day/shift when they are deployed for duty,” it says.

Sources said the management was also training about 30 assistant security officers. BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola did not respond to calls for a reaction on the issue."But the QRT won't be able to provide the full-fledged service like regular staff. At most, they can run a train at the frequency of 30 minutes," the source added.
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