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Job opportunities in Rail Transport – Assistant Loco Pilot

By on September 14, 2013

Assistant Loco Pilot is the most important Group C category of staff, of which 80% vacancies are filled up directly through Railway Recruitment Board. This group of staff consisting of Loco Pilot and Guard is called Running staff. Loco Pilots are also the forefront staff of the Railways. The average salary of running staff is much more as compared to non-running category of staff.

The average salary earned by a Railway employee of group C and D category based on the Indian Railway Book published by Ministry of Railways during the year has been as given in the table. It may be seen that the average salary is more than the supervisory category, and therefore, certainly attracts everyone towards this profession.

Category of staff Year 2012-13
Group D 3,85,254
Group C Artisan 4,83,057
Group C Supervisor 5,18,996
Group C Running 7,19,001
Source Indian Railway Year Book

There are about 15000 vacancies per year for which RRB conducts examination every year. There is no ban for creation of Loco Running staff, which depends in direct relation to the average number of passenger and freight trains run in the Railways. The number of trains is always on the rise and therefore, it is certain that the number of posts in all grades will certainly increase.  Recruitment for such a large number of vacancies provides a big chance for the job aspirant to choose the profession of Loco Pilot. There is no doubt that about 5-6 lakhs aspirants appear in the examination every year. It is likewise significant to mention that even the ladies are finding the job attractive and good number joining the profession. The job of guard is also called in Running staff with duties of travelling with the train from one station to another. There was a news the other day the a lady guard joined Central Railway.

“A 22-year-old, Ms. Shweta Gone, has become the first female to be appointed as a train guard on the Central Railway’s Mumbai division (CRMD). A commerce graduate with more than 80% marks, Ghone stood first in the training conducted for guards. According to the Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS) representative, Mr. Vijay Nair, “Gone has been appointed as the guard for a goods’ train, thereafter she will be absorbed in suburban services and later on long-distance passenger trains”.

Ladies ALP joining the profession and undergoing training

Ladies ALP is joining the profession and undergoing training

While deciding to join the profession of Loco Pilot, very few know the job profile. It is, thus, important to bring in why one should join this profession and why one should not.

Job Profile is evaluated on following points

  1. Attractive salary and benefits offered
  2. Educational qualification
  3. Professional Risk
  4. Duty Booking  system of Loco Pilot
  5. Training Program
  6. Social Status
  7. Medical and Psychological Test
  8. Running Rooms
  9. Stability
  10. Prospects of attaining high positions

Salary and other Benefits

Average salary of Group C running staff as mentioned above was Rs.  5,83,000 during 2010-11 clearly indicating the better off status of running staff as compared to other category of staff.

There are two grades in ALP namely ALP 1 and 2.

  • ALP 2 Rs.5200-20,200/- GP Rs 1900/-
  • ALP 1 Rs. 5200-20,200/- GP Rs. 2400/- (After two years  and ALP1 and ALP2 are in the ratio of 20:80)
  • Loco Pilot Goods Rs. 9300-34800/- GP 4200/-B
  • Beside one gets DA which 100% of DA, Kilometerage (part of the salary is in-built in Kilometerage), Over time, NDA
  • Newly recruited ALP gets Rs. 25000/- and about 35000-40000/- after two years.
  • Salary of LPG and LP (Pass) is around Rs. 60,000-80,000/- per month
  • Another important thing observed that  promotion to the post of LPG taking just 5-6 years for the last many years but may not last forever.

The running staffs are eligible for running allowance which depends upon the kilometer of train worked by him. However, you don’t have to spend any expenditure on the following account:

  • Free Medical at Railway Hospital for you and your family
  • Free Travel for you and your family ( 3 set of all Indian Passes)
  • Reimbursement of tuition fees of children
  • Railway accommodation

You cannot refrain yourself of making a career in this profession, if you know the average salary of loco pilot is more than the average salary of IT professional. http://topyaps.com/indian-railways?fb_action_ids=10153112995754292&fb_action_types=og.comments

Educational Qualification                                                                          

This is the best job option for a matriculate, ITI and most importantly even for Diploma Holders

Matriculation or its equivalent under 10+2 system and course completed Act Apprentice

(OR) ITI in any of the following specific trades recognized by SCVT/NCVT. Fitter, Electrician, Instrument Mechanic, Mill Wright/Maintenance Mechanic, Mechanic Radio & TV, Electronics Mechanic, Mechanic Motor Vehicle, Wiremen, Tractor Mechanic, Armature & Coil Winder, Mechanic Diesel, Heat Engine, Turner, Machinist and Refrigerator & AC Mechanic (Basically Electrical/Mechanical Trade)

(OR) Diploma in Mechanical / Electrical / Electronics / Automobile Engineering recognized by AICTE in lieu of ITI

Professional Risk

  • Loss of life and injury is the most concerned professional risk. But with time, the introduction of technology has improved safety standards considerably. If one looks at the statistics, the chance of losing life or injury is very remote.
  • Loco pilot has to face the brunt of lawlessness and getting injured while working in militant infested areas, dacoits etc.
  • Losing a business for any mistake committed, which is related to safety is certain. Keeping oneself healthy and alert can help you to take care of such risk.

Comments: These professional risks do exist in every job and  not more than the risk in every one’s daily life. One need not get scared of such risk but it is important to know before deciding the profession.

Duty Booking System of Loco Pilot

  • There are two types of train operation, namely passenger and freight. Passenger trains run to time-table whereas there is no time-table for freight trains.
  • In the passenger segment also, there are two types of train namely Passenger and Electrical Multiple Unit or Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit. Passenger trains are operated by a Loco Pilot and Assistant Loco Pilot whereas EMU/MEMUs are worked by a Motorman (only one staff on board). Passenger Trains work to a time-table. Coaching links are prepared and LP/ALP is aware of their booking time. Passenger Trains are worked by Senior LPs who has been promoted from Goods Driver to passenger. Similarly Senior ALPs are deputed to work passenger trains. The advantage of working a passenger train is fixed working hours, knowing in advance the duty time to begin and finish.
  • A train is worked by a crew consisting of a Loco Pilot (LP), Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP) and Guard. Booking of LP and ALP is done by the technical department, namely Electrical and Mechanical whereas Guard are booked by the Traffic Department. There is system of combined crew booking lobby where the guard and loco pilot are booked at the same place.  For this the crew reports to a Crew booking Lobby located near the Crew changing point. Look at the photograph of one of the crew lobbies.

Inside of Crew Lobby

Crew Lobby






  • Loco Pilot at computer console for signing on
  • LP and ALP sign on at this lobby and goes through different circulars issued by the management related to safety, technical, speed restrictions etc.A software called Crew Management System is installed at all the crew booking pointswhere all activities are of sign in and off are logged through this console. The crew also undergoes Breathalyzer test before being permitted to sign on and if found having taken liquor, means very likely to be charged with a major penalty and losing your job. Crew reports about half an hour before the schedule time of the train and completes basic functions. Some personality traits that help the loco pilot in his duty.
    • Calm and compose
    • Say big ‘NO’ to liquor
    • Go through the instruction carefully, particularly about any change of the signalling system,  latest speed restriction, major work going in the section etc.
    • Dressed comfortably and in full uniform. Always wear shoes that will help while moving over the ballast
    • Know your crew members and talked to them before the start of the journey
    • Go through your Line box that it has all items essential and  important for the journey
  • In case of freight train, there is no time-table. A train ordering is given by central control depending upon the expected arrival time, about two hours in advance. The crew lobby finds out the name of the LP/ALP/Guard who are in turn as per the last crew signed off, and sends him Train ordering advise. Now-a-days call is also served through mobile messages.
  • The crew waits in the lobby for the train for which rest facilities are provided.
  • The crew takes charge of the locomotive and works the train up to destination observing signalling, speed restriction, alert and exchanging signal. The duty hours for the passenger train is known in advance whereas freight train is worked up to identify next crew change lobby about 110-150 Km, a distance generally covered within 10 hours duty hour from signing on to signing off.

  • The crew goes to rest place at the destination called Running Room. Now-a-days running room is well equipped for a comfortable stay with facilities for sleeping, dining, bathing, recreation etc.  A slide show below gives an idea of the facilities.

  • Upkeep of running rooms is one of the priority areas of management and inspected at regular intervals. During Annual inspection by GM, one of the running room in each division is inspected by him. There is a system of awarding the best maintained running room even at Railway Board Level. Amla Running room in Nagpur Division of Central Railway is well maintained running room and this is what Sr.DEE/ TRO/NGP proudly says about this
  • The beautiful lawn is waiting for the winter in which various flowers enhance the look further. The quiet and calm scintillating atmosphere in chilling winter with fog will not be less than a hill station. Behind the running room there are several banana trees and pomegranate orchids and a teak wood plantation places you in the thick of the woods.

Ambiance of Running room at Amla 1 Ambiance of Running Room at Amla

  •  The author was working as Sr.Divisional Engineer Operation in-charge of running staff in Chakradharpur Division of South Eastern Railway. A photograph taken during the inspection of running room at Rourkela in the year 1985 is given below
Inspection of Running room at Rourkela during 1985

Inspection of Running room at Rourkela during 1985

  •  After a rest, LP and ALP are again ready to work back a train back to home station within about 6-8 hrs of rest. Food served and permitted to carry for the journey back is highly subsidized. Earlier, LP/ALP was buying grocery and the food was cooked to their taste. Now with the consent of all it has been changed to standard food, as it provides ample time for rest. Earlier waiting time was much higher.
  • He gets 16 hrs rest at Home station and again available in the roster to work next train.
  • Learning of the road i.e. a route where a LP/ALP has to work is given to familiarize him with section, stations, signalling system, gradient, level crossings etc.
  • One Loco Inspector (LI) for 25 numbers of LP to guide, counsel him and assess him at intervals about his performance. LI grades him as A, B and C category.

Training Program

There is a rigorous training program for newly recruited ALPs as well continuous training program at different stages of the career with examinations. It is compulsory to pass the examination.  The training program includes classroom lectures, simulators, in field training etc. Few photographs to give an idea of the training environment are given below:

A loco pilot working on a simulator with automatic assessment of performance

A loco pilot working on a simulator with automatic assessment of performance


A class room lecture with latest facilities

A class room lecture with latest facilities


Picture of a Training Center for Running Staff

Picture of a Training Center for Running Staff


Monitoring Training program

Monitoring Training program


Social Status

Till 90’s, running staff were called Driver and Assistant Driver. This designation was giving similarities to truck driver and a feeling of lower status in the society even though earning is better. During British period, Loco driver, Guard etc. were a prestigious position in the society with big houses in Railway colony. See the status of Film Actor Om Prakash in film Julie. Based on the strong representation by Running staff, the designation was changed to Loco pilot to bring similarity with Air Pilot. It was but natural also, because the similarity of  disciplinary standards. With good conduct, one can build a good social status and respect.

Medical and Psychological Test

The highest Medical standard  is required for running category. One should be sure of his medical fitness before planning for the competitive examination. In case you have a slightest doubt of your vision of even (-)0.25, you are not likely to clear the medical examination. The medical examination is done by the Medical team of Indian Railway and never underestimate them that one can dodge them.

Similarly is the examination for Psychological testing. Logical thinking, positive attitude, calmness in behavior are some of the attributes one should possess.

During the service, a Loco pilot undergoes medical examination once in three years compulsorily and if does not pass the prescribed medical test, he is withdrawn from running duties and an alternative posting is given. It has a brighter side also, that one undergoes a medical examination which otherwise many takes very lightly.

 Prospects of attaining High position

The earning of a running staff is significantly high and generally satisfied with the job profession and does not aspire to supervisory post. A loco pilot can come out of running duties and join stationary supervisory jobs such as

  • Loco Inspector
  • Crew and Loco Controller
  • Instructor in Training School

Beside this he is also entitled for appearing in a competitive examination for the post of Assistant Electrical or Mechanical Engineer depending on the cadre he has joined i.e. (Electric or Diesel Loco Pilot). If he succeeds, he may rise to the level of JA grade officer depending on the age he prefers to appear and qualify in the competitive examination.


Once you join the allotted  Division, one can be posted or  transferred to any crew booking lobby. But in practice, one can enjoy the stability with maximum of  2 to 3 transfers in his total career. Thus, one can enjoy reasonable  stability of working at a place in the profession.

Why one should join Assistant Loco Pilot

  • Respectable job with responsibility of highest order
  • Good salary
  • Educational qualification of Matriculation, ITI, Graduation (B.Sc., B.A.) or Diploma is enough to join the cadre. This educational standard is not enough in any other post to earn you this much of money.

Why one should not join the cadre of Assistant Loco Pilot

  • If you have high educational qualification i.e. post graduation, engineering etc. You may find it below your standard when called upon to feel the temperature of axle box or coupling of locomotive with train.
ALP touching axle box of locomotive for high temperature

ALP touching axle box of locomotive for high temperature

  • If you have any health issues, minor vision problem, poor control on sleep, lack of alertness etc.
  • If you have any psychological issues such high temperament, indiscipline, erratic behavior etc. and may undertake psychological test before aspiring this job.
  • If you are addicted to any drug, alcohol etc.

Read more on how to plan your preparation for the competition to be held in 2015

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There Are 396 Comments

  1. Sandeep says:

    Sir i am selcted for east coast railway ALP cen 01/2014…completed my medical exam…they called me for joining as trainee..but due to some health problem i was not able to report..they cancelled my appointment…now is there any chance to get back that job….the cancellation letter came last year by this month on aug 2017….pls reply me sir

    • Mahesh Kumar Jain says:

      Cancellation letter must have been issued after issuing you a notice. Had you not sought an extension of joining when the letter for joining received? Check the joining/cancellation letter for any provision to re-address your issue to the management.

      • Sandeep says:

        Yeah i forgot to tell that i recieved cancellation letter….and i also asked for extension for joining..but they issued cancellation letter…Can i avail that job

        • Mahesh Kumar Jain says:

          was there a provision in the appointment letter for seeking an extension for joining? Generally, it is not given since the management wants the complete batch in one go for training to start at one time.