Railroads change rules: Locomotive drivers must get guard clearance before starting train

The Ministry of Railways has changed the general rules making it compulsory for the locomotive driver to obtain permission from the guard before starting the train.

Although the signal in green is ready to go, the locomotive driver will wait for permission from the guard who, in turn, will rely on the station master to give the go-ahead to start the train.

According to railway sources, the provisions of clause ‘4.35’ on the start of trains of the General Rules (First Amendment) of the Indian Railways (Open Lines), 2022, have recently been amended by a Gazette notification. A locomotive driver no longer has to start his train without permission to proceed.

Before starting the train, the locomotive driver must ensure that all correct fixed signals and, if necessary, hand signals are given and that the line ahead is clear of any visible obstruction and that the guard has given the signal /confirmation on wireless communication to continue .

After ensuring that activities such as watering, loading/unloading, cleaning, etc. are completed, the station master gives permission to the guard to start the train.

“The warden shall not give the signal to start unless he has ensured that, except in accordance with special instructions, no one travels in a compartment or a vehicle or a roof of the vehicle not intended for passenger use” , the amended rule mentioned.

According to a railway official, the compartment roof, the running board and the coupler (which secure the coaches) are among the areas not intended for passengers. The guard is empowered to request the assistance of Government Railway Police/Railway Protection Force personnel to remove passengers traveling in these prohibited spaces.

Passengers traveling on running boards suspended from coaches on commuter trains are still not a rare sight, the official said. The motorist/guard could request the assistance of security personnel to evacuate these passengers in the general interest of safety.

After the EMU accident at St Thomas Mount, Chennai in 2018 when five passengers riding on the running board were killed after being hit by a wall breaching the track space, Southern Railways has issued a precautionary order slowing the speed of commuter trains where such concrete structures were found to infringe on track space and pose a safety threat.

“Many such barriers have been removed recently, but passengers continue to travel on the step during peak hours. Changed rules on starting trains empower the guard to ensure passenger safety. Traveling on the roof of compartments became a thing of the past after electrification,” said the official, who preferred not to be quoted.

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