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Dec 16, 2015

Where should loco pilots answer their natural calls?

The loco pilots or train engine drivers who keeps the rolling stocks of railway rolling are facing a major issue from very beginning of railway operations in India. The problem is that there is no toilets inside the railway engine. Hence they don't know where to answer the natural call when it comes.

Sometime lack of toilet in train creates funny situations too, but seriously this is problematc.

toilet in train
View of toilet inside a train bogie. Why these can't be made available for loco drivers?


Railways in India is keen on improving facilities for its passengers and major improvements are seen these days across the board. We've seen better furnished coaches, clean platform, better security and emergency services for passengers. In last railway budget even bio-toilets were announced. But there is not much done to take care of loco drivers.

Due to lack of toilet facility in railway engines the loco drivers face a huge problem every day of their duty. Generally there is a 10 hour shift. During this time the drivers are forced to hold on tightly against the nature for long period of time. This result in many of them developing illness especially when they become older.

You must be wondering what is the serious issue here. Can't these drivers just put breaks, get down, and dump away?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. A 120 kph running train can't be put on hold just like that. There is a set railway timetable and schedule that needs to be maintained strictly. There are many a train running behind a single train and delay in run of one train affects operation of all the trains on the same route.

As of now train drivers have to sent 'I am not well' call to next station on the route. After receiving the call, arrangements are made so that driver can go to toilet. During such period the train is kept aside on a safe line so that other trains running between stations don't get delayed.

Some people might be thinking that drivers can stop train for a minute and go and use the toilet available in a bogie attached to railway engine. But this is also not allowed. A driver is not allowed to go away from locomotive when on duty. This is as per railway operations manual. Clearly the problem is very very serious.

In foreign countries toilet facility is being provided to loco pilots. Now the 'all india loco running pilot association' has planned to do a rally at jantar-mantar in New Delhi where they will be putting forward the demand for toilet facilities inside railway engine.

It is ironic that at one side prime minister is serious about the availability of toilets everywhere so that no one goes to answer a natural call in open, while on the other hand around 50 thousand loco pilots on duty can't go anywhere. Someone has to answer these questions very quickly.

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