Network of Indian Railways, which is approximately 70,000 Route Kms. has approximately 1.2 Lakh km. track. The track often passes through dense forest, ice-capped mountains, deserts and cities is maintained in safe and comfortable condition by the untiring efforts of our fleet of gangs, comprising trackmen, keymen, patrolmen etc.
This 2,60,000 strong manpower is the base of the Engineering Department over Indian Railway. These men do strenuous work of track maintenance in all types of weather, rather in extreme weather, so as to ensure safety of track.
With adoption of heavier track structure on PSC sleepers, the systematic maintenance is gradually being done by Heavy On Track machines. Still, there are various activities, which can only be done by sectional gangs.
Sectional Gangs normally have gang beat of 6-8 kms. For assigned work, the track maintainers carry contingent of tools from their toolboxes to site of work. Each track maintainer carries about 5 tools, which weigh about 26 kg. The primary tools are Beaters, crowbars, rake ballast, etc.
Tough job of keyman:
Keyman is the first person to inspect the track everyday in morning. The entire length walked by keyman on Indian Railways everyday is such that it would cover the circumference of earth twice every day.
These keymen apart from inspecting the track minutely, have to attend to minor abnormalities, initiate protection in case of major abnormalities as well as do the planned activities of greasing of Rail fitting. For effective discharge of the duties both the hands of keyman have to be free.
Role of patrolman:
Whenever the climatic or security conditions pose a risk to safe operations of trains, patrolling is introduced. Hot weather, cold weather and monsoon patrolling are normally done as a regular measure.
The patrolman has to be suitably equipped to not only detect any abnormal condition but also to initiate the immediate protection measures. Among the equipments being carried by patrolman, tricolor hand signal lamps and 3 cell torch pose a regular problem.
Railway Ministry makes task easy for trackmen, keymen and patrolmen:
These tools and equipments with these railway men did not get any attention so far and were very heavy and cumbersome. Now, the tools have been ergonomically redesigned by using improved metallurgy and better design. This will make the work of these people easy and lead to increased productivity. Following improvements have been done in this regard:
- Total weight of equipment carried by trackmen has now been reduced to about 16 kg from 26 kg by reduction in weight of some equipments and number of equipments. Carrying of these equipments to site will now be more easy and handy which will increase productivity of trackmen.
- By suitable design and review, the weight of tools in Keyman bag has been reduced from 16 kg to about 10 kg. The improved fish bolt spanner made of low carbon Vanadium Steel weighs approximately 1 kg in place of conventional Spanner of about 3.3 kg. Shoulder bag has been ergonomically redesigned to reduce the strain of carrying these equipments and keeping the hands free.
- For patrolman, tricolor hand signal lamps have been replaced with tricolor torches and helmet with miner's light and improved staff for site protection has been provided.