In an attempt to counter Congress’ offensive on poor working conditions of loco pilots, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Wednesday accused the Opposition of attempting to “demoralise” the Railway family through misinformation and dissemination of fake news.

Vaishnaw put out a long post on social media platform X trying to debunk the Congress’ alleged theatrics. He detailed out the changes that were made in the working conditions – mandatory working hours and rest, better facilities and amenities in locomotives - of loco pilots under the current Narendra Modi-led dispensation.

“Loco pilots are important members of the Railway family…. The attempt to demoralise Railway family with fake news will fail,” the Minister stated.

Vaishnaw’s rebuttal comes days after Rahul Gandhi, Congress MP and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, said that he met a section of loco pilots at New Delhi station, and they complained of “long working hours” and “inadequate facilities”.

A spate of rail accidents in recent years have put the focus back on working conditions of loco-pilots. It has been often said pilot fatigue because of tough working conditions such as long duty hours, among other factors, have often been pointed out as a matter of concern.

The Opposition, led by the Congress, has been alleging that the current dispensation has not been addressing concerns like poor working conditions, long working hours and so on. Loco pilot shortage has been stated as another unaddressed issue.


Vaishnaw said, major recruitment exercise is under-way. Recruitment process for 18,000 running staff is currently in process.

He added, similar recruitment drives have been carried out previously. And in the past few years, “34,000 running staff have been recruited.”

Point by point clarification

Duty hours of loco pilots are carefully monitored, Vaishnaw wrote adding that “rest is provided meticulously after trips”. The average duty hours are maintained within prescribed hours. The average is less than 8 hours in the month of June this year. “Only under exigencies, the trip duration exceeds the prescribed hours,” he added.

The Minister further said, pilots operate locomotives from loco cab. “Before 2014, cabs were in very bad shape. Since 2014, cabs have been improved with ergonomic seats, and more than 7,000 loco cabs are air conditioned. New locomotives are manufactured with AC cabs,” the Minister added.

When pilots complete a trip, they come to running room for rest if they are out of headquarters.

He also drew comparisons to 2014, when these running rooms were in very bad shape. Almost all 558 running rooms are now air-conditioned, he added.

Apart from AC, other facilities include foot massagers; something that has been criticised by the Opposition previously.