A recent notification of the Indian Railways inviting applications for 5,696 vacancies of assistant loco pilots provides a golden opportunity for youths who wish to pursue this challenging profession to fulfil their dreams. Here is a brief guide on the job of piloting trains.
Candidates having an engineering diploma in mechanical/electrical/electronics/automobile engineering or ITI-Apprenticeship in the respective trades can send in their applications on or before February 19. Engineering graduates also will be considered.
Selected candidates will be appointed as Assistant Loco Pilots, who will work under the main Loco Pilot on a train. The duties of the assistant loco pilots include observing the signals and other signs along the route and informing the main loco pilot.
Meanwhile, assistant loco pilots will be taught the technical aspects of the job and railway rules during the training period. They will also be imparted coaching in piloting electric and diesel locomotives.
After two years, assistant loco pilots would be promoted as Senior Assistant Loco Pilots. The next promotion is as LP Shunter (grade 1 & 2), whose duty involves changing the engine at railway stations. Some senior assistant loco pilots would be promoted directly as Loco Pilot – Goods, bypassing the post of LP Shunter and they can pilot goods trains. The subsequent promotion posts are Loco Pilot – Passenger and Loco Pilot – Mail. The promotions to more senior levels would depend on the vacancies available.
Loco pilots get paid under a good salary range and have attractive perks as they belong to the running staff category of the Indian Railway. Among the perks is a mileage allowance for being on duty for specific kilometres. Consequently, some loco pilots earn an allowance which is higher than their basic salary. The only other post in the running staff category is the guard. Running rooms are available at railway stations for employees in this category to rest during duty intervals.
Loco pilots who have completed certain kilometres in their service can apply for the post of Crew Controller. The work of a crew controller, which is an office job, involves assigning duties for loco pilots on trains. Another promotion post is Chief Loco Inspector, who also is eligible for mileage allowance.
Railway employees in this category are eligible for 10 days casual leave and 30 days paid leave a year. Sick leave also is available. However, they cannot enjoy national holidays as the railway is an essential service. Instead, they will be given an off on any day of the week. People who are particular about fixed sleeping hours would find the job of a loco pilot difficult, as they have to work for long hours.
Good physical fitness
Candidates applying for the post of assistant loco pilot should have excellent physical fitness and an A1 category medical test will be conducted for selection. Very good eyesight is an important aspect of the job. It would be better for candidates to ensure that they meet all these mandatory physical conditions before applying.
Even after joining service, loco pilots will have to undergo medical tests every four years. Those having health issues would be shifted to other categories.
Things to note
Seniority of those joining as assistant loco pilots will be decided on the basis of the marks obtained during the initial training.
During the entire career, no railway rule should be violated. Any lapse in this regard could attract disciplinary action.