The Railways has sought feedback from its running staff on urinals to be installed in locomotives, after complaints were raised over the unhygienic conditions under which they have to answer nature's call while driving trains.
Officials said that after a comprehensive feedback is received, the Railways will zero in on the model of urinal they will install in locos to facilitate staff. Last week, the Railway Board issued orders to the chief electrical locomotive engineers (CELEs) of all 17 zonal railways to take feedback from the running staff (assistant loco pilots and loco pilots).
"The CELEs are taking feedback from running staff on their mobile phones from loco pilots. This feedback is like a stakeholder survey to know what they are comfortable with before implementing the new system. After this, the Railway Board will decide on the installation of urinals," an official said.
However, the Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organization, the association of loco pilots, is not satisfied with this decision of the Railway Board. They argue that there is a need to have toilets in locos and not urinals, contending that it would not be adequate.
Six years after the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first locomotive fitted with a bio-toilet, 97 have been installed so far, officials said.
Indian Railways has more than 14,000 diesel-electric locomotives. Of more than 60,000 loco pilots on its rolls, about 1,000 are women, most of whom drive short-distance goods trains.
"If the toilets are installed, then more women will be able to drive the locos and need not settle for desk jobs," a woman loco pilot told PTI. PTI had last month flagged the issue where women running staff explained how they had to choose being in office because of issues they faced while on the road with lack of toilets in locos.
The Railways said in a statement that subsequent to the Railway Budget announcement in 2013 and persistent demand, a decision was taken to provide water closets (toilets) in electric locos being built by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW). So far, 97 electric locos have been fitted with water closets, it said.
The Railways only assigns short 200 km-300 km stretches to women, that too with their approval. But shifts can often extend to 12 hours. Men, too, have to squat on the side of the tracks, which is unhygienic, some staffers said.
(With PTI inputs)