A locomotive pilot in the Southern Zone of the Indian Railways was observed getting distracted by his smartwatch while operating a train at a speed of 110 kmph. The smartwatch’s screen was turning on frequently, albeit only for a brief moment. The incident has prompted the Madurai division to enforce a ban on the use of smartwatches for its running staff. The order has been implemented with immediate effect.
Following the Balasore train accident in Odisha, the Railway Board has directed zones and divisions to adhere to the necessary protocols during train operations and maintenance. A safety drive is also being observed across the Indian Railways.
While the use of mobile phones is already prohibited, smartwatches are widely used by running staff. Some use them to track their health activities, while others employ them as an alternative to mobile phones by connecting them via Bluetooth.
“In a recent ambush check in the zone, one loco pilot on duty was frequently seen looking at his smartwatch while operating a train at 110 KMPH, as its screen often turns on from a blank state… This is highly dangerous,” stated the official order issued in this regard.
The ban order, therefore, has been implemented with immediate effect. Copies of the order have been sent to crew lobbies, CLIs, DRM, and all senior officers for implementation.
When asked about the specific case, B Guganesan, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Zone, stated, “Certain smartwatches, when connected to a mobile phone, replicate all the features of a mobile phone. Calls can be made, received and attended. Taking this into account, such smartwatches are banned for running staff while working on trains.”
The usage of mobile phones while on duty is prohibited for the running staff in the Indian Railways. Regular checks are conducted to ensure that their disclosed mobile phone numbers are switched off. This is a safety measure taken to keep the staff free from distractions.
“Use of smartphones is not allowed for running staff while operating locomotive. There are instructions that they have to switch off their phones and keep it away,” said Amitabh Sharma, Spokesperson for Indian Railways.
“If anyone violates the laid rules and norms, disciplinary action is taken against them in accordance with the regulations,” he added.