Mumbai :  The gangmen, during a two-day nationwide workshop, have raised their concern over the patrolling of 8 kilometre long stretch assigned to them. The derailment of four coaches of the Diva-Sawantwadi passenger express that claimed 23 lives is a rude wake up call for the railway officials.

The gangman allotted the 8 km stretch was just a kilometer away when the four coaches of passenger express derailed near Roha. At present every gangman is allotted a specified 8 km stretch along the track that they are expected to inspect for rail fractures and other failures. During the derailment at Roha the gangman assigned with the inspection of the track after starting his duty at 8 am had completed four km when the train derailed just a kilometre ahead.

During the two-day long workshop organised on the safety of the gangman by the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) and All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) the gangmen across the country gathered to voice their opinions. They were of the opinion that the stretch being too long makes it difficult for them to monitor it.

A gangman with WRMS said, “Each joint on the tracks on the allotted stretch needed to be checked and is very difficult. If the distance would have been less there are high possibilities of the weld fracture being detected before the train passing that stretch.”

The derailment was no less than a rude wake up call for the railway officials who are now considering reducing the 8 km stretch allotted to each gangman. The gangmen are expected to make a round trip of the 8 km single line track. Central Railway’s General Manager Sunil Kumar Sood, during a press interaction, had stated that the railways are looking at the possibility of reducing the distance.  Sood said, “Either the frequency of the patrolling along the tracks needs to be increased or the stretch assigned to each gangman needs to be revised.”

The gangmen further expressed their worries with high vacancies for the position in the railways.

Ajay Singh, Divisional Secretary of Majdoor Sangh, said “With hundreds of vacant posts, the gangmen are sent on tracks without a flag man or a whistle man responsible to inform other fellow men working on track about a approaching train. It is a major reason for high number of deaths of gangmen on track.”

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