Terming the ban on the use of mobile phones by train drivers as “unjustified and unreasonable”, railway trade unions have demanded a rollback of the order until further discussions on finding alternatives are held.
Offering a solution, M Raghavaiah, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), said, “A simple mobile jammer could have been fitted in the drivers’ cabin, instead of imposing a ban and asking drivers to switch off their cell phones.”
After the railways found an increasing number of train drivers using cell phones while running trains, putting hundreds of passengers at risk, they recently issued a stern circular that cell phones of train drivers would be tracked down. The circular said the drivers needed to give a declaration about their official and personal mobile phones, the phone number and the service provider, so the railways could track it down.
“While the train is running, train drivers will have to keep their mobile phones in switched off condition in their bags,” the order added.
Last year, a similar ban was enforced by federal regulators in the United States after the two deadly train collisions in 2008, where it was found that the drivers of the trains had been using their phones.
In a letter shot off to the chairman of the Railway Board on Thursday, a copy of which is with DNA, Raghavaiah wrote: “There is widespread resentment among running staff against the instructions of the railway board.
The federation feels that in place of imposing a complete ban on the use of mobile phones, the board should have considered the option of fixing jammers in the train’s driving cabs or any other scientific technical method which automatically switches off a mobile phone instead of asking train drivers to switch off their mobile phones.”
The NFIR has therefore requested the Board to withdraw the circular or keep in abeyance its implementation and hold a discussion with the federation to find an alternative system.