This is one ‘Being Human’ initiative that has nothing to do with Bollywood star Salman Khan! Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways has flagged off a new Guard Van for goods train which is equipped with facilities such as solar-powered light, fan, mobile charging point and a zero-discharge bio-toilet. It’s hard to imagine the conditions under which guards of freight trains travelled without a fan, especially during peak summers! Add to that the absence of a light during the night! But Railways has taken the step to better equip the guard van, and provide better working conditions for its workers and employees.
Indian Railway’s IROAF (Indian Railway Organisation for Alternate Fuels) has modified the Guard vans with the assistance of Amritsar Workshop of Northern Railway. These Guard vans are also called 8 wheeled Brake Vans Z- frame Improved BVZI. The solar generation is supported with a battery bank to power the brake van facilities for more than 24 hours continuously even on a rainy day, says Railways. According to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, using solar power for the fan and light will also help Railways reduce its carbon footprint. The van is equipped with GPRS support aimed at monitoring the system and ensuring timely maintenance. The Guard’s toilet has also been modified to a zero discharge bio-toilet.
Sources in Indian Railways told FE Online that all these steps are part of a bigger initiative that is being undertaken on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “PM Modi wants to take the suggestions of Railway employees on how the services of Indian Railways can be improved and how the body can function in a better way to compete on global scale. He wants to make sure that employees work in better conditions and thus contribute better to the growth of Railways,” sources told FE Online. For this purpose, lakhs of SMSes have been sent to railway staff, seeking responses and around 50,000 suggestions have been received. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is personally monitoring this initiative, the source added.
In May this year, Indian Railways launched the first diesel locomotive equipped with a vacuum toilet for loco pilots. In a major relief to train drivers, the budget proposal to provide toilet facility for loco pilots was implemented. As a safety measure, toilet cabin door opens only when the locomotive is stationary and loco brakes have been applied, which means the driver cannot access the toilet cabin if the train is in running mode. Earlier, loco pilots or drivers only had the option of using the toilet facility available in coach or in the Guard cabin. In his Railway Budget 2016 speech, Suresh Prabhu had said, “I am proud to state that I lead a workforce that is sincere and dedicated. It is my constant endeavour to improve their working conditions so that they continue to serve the organisation with devotion”. It’s good to see that however basic, but some important steps are being taken to improve the working conditions of railway employees.