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Driverless train: Northern Railways removes loco pilot from service for 'negligence'

The loco pilot, Sandeep Kumar, 'failed to fulfil his duties' and observe safe practice as mentioned in the railway norms. He adopted a shortcut and used improper engine stabling procedures.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 12:36 IST

New Delhi: The Northern Railways has removed from service the loco pilot of a freight train which ran about 70 km on its own from Jammu's Kathua to Punjab's Ucchi Bassi, saying his 'negligence' could have resulted in a 'major incident' causing loss of lives.

A notice to this effect was issued by the senior divisional mechanical engineer (DME), the disciplinary authority in this case.

The loco pilot, Sandeep Kumar, 'failed to fulfil his duties' and observe safe practice as mentioned in the railway norms. He adopted a shortcut and used improper engine stabling procedures which led to it rolling down along with 53 wagons for almost 70 km in the Firozpur Division, the notice stated.

This 'could have resulted in a major incident causing both loss to life and property. It also brought a bad name to the safety image of Indian Railway as a whole and Northern Railway in particular', it added.

The notice expressed concern over the 'act of negligence' and held that despite repeated counselling by chief loco inspectors (CLIs) and officers, shortcuts were adopted by the loco pilot at Kathua station.

"This cannot go unpunished. This caused disruption of traffic in the main line section of JRC-JAT (Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu Tawi) causing heavy detention to almost 8 up and 4 down trains. You have failed to carry out instructions issued to you from time to time to adopt the proper procedure of stabling load/locomotive," the notice read.

After being satisfied that the loco pilot was 'negligent', the senior DME said, "I therefore in exercise of powers conferred upon me under rule 14 (ii) of RS (D&A) Rules, 1968, have decided to impose the penalty of removal from services."

On February 25, a divisional material train (DMT) stationed at Kathua station started rolling down due to a gradient towards Pathankot at 70 to 75 km per hour.

It crossed eight to nine stations and covered a distance of 75 km before it was stopped at Ucchi Bassi by putting things like sand and wooden blocks on the track.

The Northern Railways had suspended six people, including the loco pilot, immediately after the incident.

Railway sources said a high-level investigation into the incident is underway and some others might also face action.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 12:36 IST)

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