Railways to Hire 18,799 Assistant Loco Pilots Amid Safety Focus

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New Delhi, 19th June 2024: In response to the recent fatal rail accident involving an express and a cargo train in West Bengal, the railways announced on Tuesday a significant increase in the hiring of assistant loco pilots (ALPs) to enhance safety measures. The Railway Board issued a circular to general managers, revising the planned hiring of ALPs from 5,696 to 18,799 across all zones.

The decision comes amid urgent calls to strengthen personnel deployment in the railway sector. “This step underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing employment opportunities and meeting the growing demand for skilled railway personnel,” an official stated.

The Railway Board instructed all zones to expedite the process of filling these enhanced vacancies in collaboration with the Railway Recruitment Board. However, the complete recruitment process, including notification, written tests, aptitude assessments, medical examinations, and training, is expected to span over six months.

V Balachandran, Central Organising Secretary of All India Loco Running Staff Association, expressed satisfaction with the decision, noting their previous appeals for increased ALP vacancies had been acknowledged. “This move will alleviate some of the operational burdens within the system. It is crucial to reassess the current norms for manpower requirements, especially in light of rest demands and inter-railway transfer requests,” he added.

Meanwhile, loco pilots’ organizations continue to advocate for reduced working hours, emphasizing the need for improved conditions. Earlier in the day, the Congress party highlighted that 21% of loco pilot positions and 8% of assistant loco pilot positions in the railways remained vacant, urging further attention to workforce shortages.