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‘Fake news will fail’: Railway minister Vaishnaw counters Rahul Gandhi’s claims on ‘poor’ condition of loco pilots

NEW DELHI: Amid recent controversies sparked by Rahul Gandhi‘s meeting with loco pilots in Delhi, railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw responded to the Congress leader’s claim and said that “loco pilots are important members of the railway family”.
He alleged that the opposition’s misinformation and theatrics aim to demotivate them. “There is a lot of misinformation and theatrics by the opposition to demotivate them,” Vaishnaw said.
Vaishnaw highlighted various steps taken by the Railways to improve the working conditions of train drivers. “Duty hours of loco pilots are carefully monitored. Rest is provided meticulously after trips. The average duty hours are maintained within prescribed hours,” he wrote. “The average is less than 8 hours in the month of June this year. Only under exigencies, the trip duration exceed the prescribed hours,” he added.
This statement comes after Rahul Gandhi, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, met a group of loco pilots last week. The pilots had complained of “inadequate rest due to understaffing,” and Gandhi assured them he would raise their issues in Parliament.

Vaishnaw addressed these concerns by pointing out the significant improvements made since 2014. “Pilots operate locomotives from loco cab, and before 2014, cabs were in very bad shape. Since 2014, cabs have been improved with ergonomic seats, and more than 7,000 loco cabs are air-conditioned. New locomotives are manufactured with AC cabs,” he said.
Regarding off-duty resting facilities, the minister said, “When pilots complete a trip, they come to the running room for rest if they are out of headquarters. Before 2014, running rooms were in very bad shape. Almost all (558) running rooms are now air-conditioned.” He added that in many running rooms, foot massagers are also provided, noting, “Incidentally, this was criticized by Congress without understanding the working conditions of loco pilots.”
Vaishnaw also emphasized the ongoing recruitment process aimed at addressing understaffing issues. “In the past few years, a major recruitment exercise was completed, and 34,000 running staff have been recruited. The recruitment process for 18,000 running staff is currently in process,” he said.
“The attempt to demoralize the railway family with fake news will fail. The entire rail parivar is united in serving our country,” Vaishnaw concluded.

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