Fifteen locomotive drivers found drunk during the routine breathalyser checks in different railway divisions were debarred from driving trains and suitable actions were initiated against them for gross indiscipline and violating service rules, a senior railway ministry official said.
Several of the train drivers caught were from Northern Railway which operates some of the prestigious trains and handles bulk of the traffic movement.
While Moradabad division reported as many as 11 such cases, Lucknow, Ambala, Guntur and Bijaywada divisions had one case each of loco pilots found drunk in the last six months from September 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011.
"It is mandatory for loco pilot and assistant loco pilot to undergo breathalyser test before being booked to drive the train. If found drunk then the driver is not allowed to resume duty," said the official.
There are about 11,700 trains running everyday across the country carrying more than two crore passengers. One loco pilot and an assistant loco pilot are required to run a train.
"The alcohol test is being done by the supervisor staff and after the mandatory test only the loco pilots are allowed to drive the train," he said, adding, "Drunkenness during duty hours is a serious offence and Railways take it very seriously."
Railways use state-of-the-art breathalyser equipment to know the exact level of alcohol content in blood during the test.
"Loco inspectors also carry out random checks at stations as a precautionary measure to prevent the drivers from drinking," the official said.
Railways have stringent punishment meted out to loco pilots if found drunk during duty hours. While the driver is chargesheeted immediately, punishment like withholding of the year's increment is also being given.