Railway struggles with crisis of loco masters

Simulator to be launched today for expediting training

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:24, Oct 24,2019


Bangladesh Railway was struggling with crisis of loco masters while many of them were less-trained and overworked.

The authorities were scheduled to launch a simulator to train up entry level loco masters for expediting their training for becoming a senior loco master to drive a train.

A train simulator was a computer-based simulation of rail transport operations.

About 35 per cent of 1,742 sanctioned posts of locomotive master grade 1 and 2, assistant locomotive master of grade 1 and 2 and sub-locomotive master were lying vacant, shows Bangladesh Railway documents.

Railway officials said the number of passenger trains doubled only in last 10 years which pushed the loco masters to overwork.

‘The loco masters are entitled to get rest in every eight hours of driving but now they are driving trains even for 11 hours at a stretch,’ said a senior railway official.

The railway was now compelled to engage all loco masters to drive trains while most of them want to work overtime to earn more money, he said.

An entry level loco master needs to become a senior level loco master to drive a train on main lines to stay on trains for eight to 10,000 kilometres.

Currently the railway was allowing the loco masters with having experience of 5,000 km on tracks, the official said.

Bangladesh Railway director general Md Shamsuzzaman told New Age that they were regularly recruiting against the vacant positions of loco masters.

‘I know that many positions are still vacant,’ he said, adding, ‘We are working to get clearance from the public administration ministry for recruiting loco masters on feeder posts.’

He said they would hopefully recruit the vacant posts within few years gradually.

They had recruited 400 loco masters on vacant posts, he said.

Sixteen of 236 posts of loco master grade 1 posts and 208 posts of 388 loco master grade 2 were now vacant. Four posts of assistant loco master grade 1 out of 277 remain vacant and 280 posts of assistant loco master grade 2 of 607 post remain vacant. Out of 234 posts of sub loco master, 105 remain vacant.

A loco master grade 1 or 2 can drive trains on main lines while an assistant locomotive master grade 1 or 2 attend him or her. Sub loco masters mainly work at locomotive workshops. 

It takes minimum eight years to maximum 11 years for an entry level assistant loco master grade 2 to become locomotive master grade 2.

With such manpower, the railway operates 360 passenger and 26 goods trains across the country.

In such situation, moves to use simulators were taken under the Procurement of Locomotives, Relief Cranes and Locomotive Simulator for Bangladesh Railway Project.

Railways minister Nurul Islam Sujan would launch the simulator at Kamalapur Railway station today.

The Tk 15.60 crore-simulator was manufactured by Lander Simulation and Training Solutions.

The machine is a set of one meter gauge locomotive, one broad gauge locomotive.

The railway already filmed 150 kilometres between Dhaka and Akhaura out of 321 km of Dhaka-Chattogram section and another 150 km out of 400 km Dhaka-Khulna section for training loco masters giving them actual scenario of lines through this machine, railway officials said.

The simulator would give real time experience of facing an accident which would make the training more effective.

Already four railway officials got training in Spain to instruct the loco masters on the simulator.

Meanwhile, the entry level loco masters also got academic and basic training and field training of six months.

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