FPJ Interview: Meet Satish Kumar, the Loco pilot who risked his life to restart train after passenger pulled emergency chain

Between April 16th to April 30th 2022, 197 cases of chain pulling were reported in CRs Mumbai division in around 1000 trains delayed up to 15 minutes.

Kamal Mishra | Updated on: Saturday, May 07, 2022, 07:53 AM IST

Satish Kumar with Shivaji Sutar , Chief public relation officer of CR on Friday at CSMT.  | FPJ
Satish Kumar with Shivaji Sutar , Chief public relation officer of CR on Friday at CSMT. | FPJ

Satish Kumar, Senior Assistant loco pilot was appreciated by Senior Railway Officials for their dedication towards duty and efforts to resume the journey at a critical time, avoiding any delay to the subsequent trains running on the section including Suburban trains from Kalyan to Kasara over a River Bridge between Titwala and Khadavli on Thursday. Once the chain is pulled, the train has to be detained, and the delay affects other trains on the stretch.

Between April 16th to April 30th 2022, 197 cases of chain pulling were reported in CRs Mumbai division in around 1000 trains delayed up to 15 minutes.

Tell me something about the Thursday incidents?

I was deployed on the Godan Express on Thursday. Near Khadavli someone pulled the chain and my train stopped on the Kalu river bridge. I was aware of the risk but didn't have any option. To run the train again, it was mandatory to reset the knob of the second last coach of the train in which the alarm chain was pulled. Assessing the gravity of the situation, I risked my life to crawl under the train over the River Bridge to reset the Alarm Chain because, at that citation, I didn't have another option.

When you entered under the train to repair the chain pull, what was on your mind?

At that time I was only thinking about the only restart of the train. Although I was aware of the risk but didn't have a choice.

You didn't think about your family?

The job of a loco pilot always needs full concentration. Hence I always keep full concentration on my job and rarely discuss my job with my family. I have a two and half year old child but I am lucky my wife takes full care of my child. . She knows about the nature of my job and supports me.

Tell us about the duties of loco pilots?

The duty of loco pilots is very much strenuous. Loco Pilots are responsible for the lives of thousands of people and costly goods. Our duty timings are not fixed. We have to work against nature. We hardly get to celebrate any festival with our loved ones. While working on festivals like Diwali, Holi, and Eid we miss our family. Sometimes we have to remove dead bodies of animals, and humans from the railway track after a run over. We have to face rain, foggy weather and many more atmospheric conditions while running.

What do you want to say about the problem of chain pulling?

Passengers should refrain from pulling the chain if there isn’t a genuine reason. This is a facility provided only to be used in life-saving emergencies. One could approach the train captain, travelling ticket examiners, the RPF, field personnel and coach attendants to address any issues that may arise in the course of a journey.

What happens when somebody pulls the chain?

The alarm chains are connected to the main brake pipe of a train. This brake pipe maintains constant air pressure, helping the train move smoothly. When the emergency chain is pulled, the air stored in the brake pipe escapes, through a small vent. The drop in air pressure leads to the slowing down of the train. After noticing the drop in the air pressure, we need to immediately control the speed of the train, but it will take a few minutes. Because the train runs on narrow rails, it cannot be brought to a sudden standstill, as that could lead to imbalance causing a derailment. For example, a train running at a speed of 100 kmph might take 2 to 3 minutes to complete halt.

Do you have any system to override the emergency braking system due to the chain pulling?

Yes, in the past loco pilots can override the emergency brake due to chain pulling but it's allowed only in special situations. In the old days, when dacoits were a big threat, loco pilots were given clear instructions to override emergency brakes when passing through crime prone areas. But the rules have been changed somewhat today. Currently, if a loco pilot overrides the emergency braking due to a chain pulling in the train, then he is answerable to the higher authorities for such an action.

How do you spot the location of the chain pulling in the trains ?

The Train coaches are now fitted with emergency flashers, situated on the side walls of the coaches. The flashers from the coach (in which the chain was pulled) are activated as soon as the emergency chain is pulled. A light also starts blinking and buzzing within the locomotive pilot’s controls until the Guard, Assistant Driver or other railway officials reach the location of the chain pulling and manually stop the leakage of air pressure. Once the leakage of air pressure stops the air pressure gradually comes back to normal after that departs .

When chain pulling is allowed?

Emergencies may arise anytime during a train journey. For that, each train is equipped with emergency ( Alarm) chains. Passengers need to understand the situation and use it only in extreme situations like a medical emergency, fire on a train or for the life-saving purpose only for example if someone fell off the moving train etc otherwise they may be prosecuted under the railway act.

Is pulling chains punishable under the railway act?

Chain pulling, without valid reasons, is a punishable offence under Section 141 of the Indian Railways Act. If someone pulled the chain without a valid reason he will be punishable up to one-year imprisonment or with a fine that may extend to Rs1,000 or both.

Can chain pulling lead to any damage on the train?

If the chain is pulled while the train is in slow motion then there will be no damage caused to the train. On the contrary, if the chain is pulled while the train is running at top speed then there is a possibility of a train derailment. So, before people pull the chain, they need to think again because this act can lead to problems for other commuters.

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Published on: Friday, May 06, 2022, 11:31 PM IST