In the last five years, 995 loco pilots have failed breathalyser tests in three zones, The Times of India reported on Monday, citing a response to a Right to Information query.
The Railways routinely conduct such tests as a way to prevent the consumption of alcohol by drivers while they are on duty.
The RTI application filed by activist Chandrashekhar Gaur in Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch reveals the results from the Western Railway, Northern Railway and West Central Railway zones. Jabalpur Railway Division reportedly said that it does not maintain such records, while Bhopal Division refused to share the information.
“It is scary to know that so many loco pilots tested positive for alcohol after signing off from work,” Gaur said. “The railways should increase the number of tests and go for random testing.”
The Delhi division of the Northern Railway recorded 471 failed tests of loco pilots – the highest. Of these, 181 were pilots of passenger trains, while 290 were drivers of goods trains.
The Moradabad division reported 138 infractions.
In Gujarat where liquor is banned, 104 drivers, including 41 pilots of passenger trains, failed the breathalyser tests in the last five years.
Comparatively, Mumbai showed better results, where 11 drivers failed tests.
Data from the Western Railway said that 237 drivers, including 82 passenger drivers, reported failed tests. The highest figure here was reported in the Ratlam division, with 158 such cases, including 32 passenger trains. In the Kota division, 40 drivers reported failed tests.
The RTI response from the Western Railway did not specify if the drivers were tested before or after the duty hour. It mentioned that 44 loco drivers in Ahmedabad, 37 in Vadodara, 15 in Rajkot and eight in Bhavnagar failed the test.
The Times of India cited a 2012 letter by the Railway Ministry, stating that if a test shows that the alcohol level is 1–20 mg/100 ml, then the driver should be taken off duty and the results should be marked on their service record. They should be removed from service if the level is above 20 mg/100 ml.
Disciplinary action is now being taken against loco pilots who returned failed breathlyser tests, West Central Railway Public Relations Officer Harshit Shrivastav told the newspaper.