Profile of Civil Engineer in Indian Railways

Hello Everyone,

In this article we will be looking at the profile of a Civil Engineer in Indian Railways recruited through IES. It is necessary to understand the working of an organization before joining it. So, in this series, we will be looking at work profile of engineers in details starting with civil engineering. I will not discuss perks and allowances here, it will covered in the another article.

Work Profile

Railway is one of the best places for a civil engineer to be. It provides immense diversity of work which you can only think of in other organizations. Broadly there are four types of work profile which an engineer can access in IR (Indian Railway).

1. Open Line/P.Way – This is the core work which you will be doing in IR. This work consist of day to day maintenance of assets of IR which includes tracks, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and all other civil engineering assets that you can think of. It doesn’t mean that you physically have to do this work. There is whole army of people below you to command, it is up to you how you manage your subordinates. Out of all four engineering branches, Civil has the most of the resources of IR in terms of men, material and land. Typically you will start your career in this department of IR; also most of the facilities are here only. You will be establishment head of all the persons working below you. Apart from schedule work, you will deal with lot of other stuff too.

2. Construction- It is the construction wing of IR responsible for creation of new assets. After projects are sanctioned, you will be the executive head from Railways. You will have to check and inspect work done by contractors, issue them guidelines, punish them etc. In this department your technical skills are put to test, how much skill you have being an IES. You will have to propose solutions to many problems arising out technical difficulties such as slope failure, caving of tunnels, retaining wall failure, bridge foundation stability, erection of girders at critical locations, etc. Your subordinates will expect a lot from you, be ready to live up to their expectations.

3. RDSO- This is the research wing of Railways. If you have the aptitude for research you can take posting here for your work. If you really can contribute through your research then RDSO will provide you the opportunity to do so.

4. Deputation – There are various Psu working under ministry of railways, you can go to one of these if you so wish. Also, you can go to Railway Board, New Delhi to work on different policy matters for whole of Railways. You will also be able to visit foreign countries for training in technical matters but don’t expect it so early in the career.


Organizational Structure of Civil Engineering in Indian Railways

  1. At Board Level

 civil 1

  1. At Zonal Level

c23. At Divisional Level


Duties and Responsibilities in First Posting

Typically, a civil engineer through IES will be placed as the assistant divisional engineer in one of the sub-divisions of his allotted zone. Following are his duties:-

1) GENERAL DUTIES-responsible for the maintenance and safety of all Track and Building Works in his jurisdiction
2) ESSENTIAL DUTIES : Inspection and maintenance of track and all structures ,Preparation of plans and estimates execution and measurement of works including track works, Verification of stores held by stockholders, Submission of proposals for inclusion in the track renewal programme revenue budget and the works

3) KNOWLEDGE OF RULES AND REGULATION –  To observe the rules and procedures laid in the General and Subsidiary Rules, The Indian Railways Permanent Way Manual, The Indian Railway Works Manual ,The Indian Railway Bridge Manual, the Engineering Code and other codes, orders etc.

4) CO-ORDINATION WITH OFFICIAL OF OTHER DEPARTMENT: To co-operate effectively with officers and staff of other departments in matters that warrant co-ordination.

5) INSPECTION BY HIGHER OFFICIALS-  to accompany inspection of Chief Engineer, General Manager, CRS etc.

6) INSPECTION OF ADEN- To conduct inspection in his jurisdiction as per the Schedules laid down by the Administration from time to time and also maintains the records of the results of his inspection and ensure compliance of the same.

7) INSPECTION OF PERMANENT-WAY– Push Trolley / Motor Trolley Inspection, Fast Train Inspection, Inspection of Level Crossings, Checking of curves, Checking of Points and Crossings, Monsoon Patrolling, Track on Bridges, Scrutiny of Registers during Inspection, Inspections of Track .

8) EXECUTION OF WORKS- To ensure that all works are carried out according to plans and specifications laid down. Important works used to be set out personally by AEN

9) ACTION IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES – In the case of an accident to proceed to the site by the quickest available means. On the way he ascertains the requirements of materials and men at site and arrange for the same.

Amit Singh
IRSE 2013

Do IES officers serve the society?

Suppose you are sitting in front of UPSC board for interview and the first question which is asked is “Why do you want to join IES?” and you reply “Sir, I want to serve the society.” This answer is vague as well as unimpressive; it will show your lack of imagination and information. You don’t know how you will get to serve society being IES. So, in this article we will discuss this question in depth so that you are well aware of scope and limitations of social service in IES. We will also compare IES with respect to civil services.

First, let us look at the term IES, does this term mean anything? Aspirants and coaching institute refer the term ‘IES’ as Indian Engineering Services but UPSC does not. It uses ESE i.e Engineering Services Exam which sounds so dull and boring; at least IES sounds and looks fancy enough to motivate us during preparation. IES is not a service like IAS/IPS; it is a combined entrance exam for recruiting engineers for different departments of government. According to your rank and preference, the service is allotted which you can finally call as ‘service’. So if someone ask you “What is your service?” don’t reply that “I am an IES officer”, it will not convey any meaning, it just means that you got some rank in an entrance exam. Recently released Bibek Debroy committee report uses the term IES for Indian Engineering Services, so we will use the same term for the similar context. Moreover I would like to appeal to UPSC to official use IES for our beloved engineers.

Now lets us look at social service thing which is so called basis of your preparation. You can serve the society in myriad number of ways depending on your ability and opportunity given to you. First ask yourself how do you want to serve this society? Basically there can be two ways of doing it- Directly or Indirectly. According to me, of all the government jobs, IAS and IPS are the only two services which deal directly with people, rest all the services work indirectly. In fact, IAS has the maximum opportunity as District magistrate to work directly for the people. But this is not the end of story, there is crucial difference in working directly for the society and bringing about change in the lives of people. You can be a writer and yet impact the lives of ordinary citizens. All of us can’t become IAS, because our abilities and potentialities differ at the end of day. Don’t you think that it better to be good engineer than bad administrator? Will you be happier bringing a real change in lives of people working for them indirectly or making innovative technologies for improvement in  course of their lives directly? This is for you to decide. All I want to say is if you really want to serve the society first decide how you can put your ability to the best use for the service of citizens of this country. There are multiple challenges facing our nation, the question is which challenge do you want to take?

In IES, you are an engineer first, officer later. After you get posted in your respective departments you will have to look for challenges facing the nation which you can solve through your work. I work in railways, so let me give you an example of how you can impact lives of people working in railways. Railways tagline is ‘Lifeline of the nation’ which means a lot of people of this nation earn their livelihood directly or indirectly because of railways. Just have look at those areas where railway lines are missing and you will notice the disparity between developments of the area vis-a vis where railway lines have been existing.

Suppose you are a good electronics engineer then do some research to avoid collision of trains while improving line capacity?  If you are a good mechanical engineer, then design coaches and locos for high speed trains. IF you are a good electrical engineer then do some research in OHE, TRD, TRS, etc. If you are good civil engineer then there is lot to give to railways. In terms of engineering, there is much to learn and improve, and this is what engineers do.

Let’s us take a case study to understand this topic more clearly. There is a remote district in North-East India which is mainly inhabited by tribal communities. There is only road connectivity to the capital of the state. Insurgents group run extortion gangs in the area. People have been cut-off from mainstream development process. They have not seen outside world or travel much due lack of rail transport. In rainy seasons, roads get damaged and all movement halts. Now imagine a situation when this district is connected via rail network to the rest of the country. It would really change lives of people. If by all means, it gets high speed network, then all is left to imagination. You had just worked as an engineer for railways which is now changing about lives of people. They can now find employment, tourist attractions will increase, sporting talent will grow, and insurgency may also lessen. In the same district, NHAI, BSNL, CPWD, will send their IES officers to improve existing infrastructure. I have just given you an example of how an IES can serve society.

Now the question is do you really want to serve society? Helping people is not an easy task, it means to suffer, even to put your life at risk. Only those who have inner appeal can do this. Being an IES, you may not get recognition that you deserve because in current framework of society, engineers are valued below politicians and bureaucrats. People may not even come to know about your efforts, just ask yourself how much do you know about Railways apart from booking tickets. You know well enough the state of research and development in India, inspite of being a crucible of talent we lack in producing world-class research. Japan developed bullet train in 60’s and we still don’t have a single network of high speed trains. Just look at the history of Railway Ministry and you will know why it is so. Ministry of Railways has always been used as a bargain for stitching political alliance but it has always proved to be bad deal for the people of this country.

Returning to the original question, I would say that being IES is one of the best ways of being an engineer in India, serving people is upto you. It matters a lot on how you look at your job. Just do your job honestly, somewhere it will definitely bring smiles on the faces of people and you would have served the society.

Amit Singh
IRSE 2013

Bibek Debroy Committee’s recommendations for Railway Services

If you are preparing for IES and wish to join Railways, this article is important for you. If you are preparing for civil services, then also have look. For all those who have willingly or unwillingly come into Railways, Bibek Debroy Committee’s recommendations for restructuring of Railway Services promises new changes which may completely overhaul the existing organisational structure.

This panel suggested various reforms for Indian Railways but here we will look only at human resource management chapter of this report. If implemented, whatever little bit you know about Railways services is going to change. So, have a look at this article to know how IR will take shape if these recommendations are implemented.

What is the Problem?
IR is a complex, multi-departmental, and operational organization spread across the country, with approximately 1.3 million employees. There are about 400 different categories of Group ‘C’ employees and 10 Group ‘A’ services, of which 8 are organized Group ‘A’ services. The main problem in IR is Departmentalism.  The term “departmentalism”, as being used here, refers to the negative aspects of functional specialization in IR.

Current Group 'A' Services
Current Group ‘A’ Services

Let me explain in simple words. There are so many officers in IR and so many departments that one department doesn’t work in harmony with others. They promote their department’s interest over the interest of organisation.

In light of this basic issue and lot of others which i will not detail here. This panel proposed following recommendations.

What has been Proposed?


IR should consolidate and merge the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising the existing five technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS), comprising the three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS).

Option 1 has been recommended
Option 1 has been recommended


Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS):

4Direct recruitment of officers to IRTechS should continue to be from the Indian Engineering Services (IES) examination conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. Thereafter, once that new system of entry is in place, the recruitment of a few officers through the Special Class Railway Apprentices route should be discontinued, as the raison d’être for it is no longervalid. Candidates belonging to the existing engineering streams (electrical, mechanical, S&T, civil etc) who are eligible for any of the Railway engineering services and who appear, qualify and obtain preference based on their merit should be recruited to the common single IRTechS. Alternatively, the option of conducting a separate Railway engineering exam by the UPSC has also been suggested to us. However, this Committee is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRTechS may not be desirable as it may lead to dilution in the quality of candidates selected and would also entail extra expenditure on the exchequer.

Indian Railways Logistics Service ( IRLogS)


Direct recruitment of officers to IRLogS should continue to be from the Indian Civil Services Exam (ICES) conducted by UPSC, as is being done currently. As in the case of IRTechS, this Committee is of the view that holding a separate exam for IRLogS may not be desirable. A similar procedure as recommended for IRTechS should be followed in the case of Group ‘B’ officers inducted into Group ‘A’. Promotion of Group ‘C’ officials to Group ‘B’ posts of the accounts, personnel, commercial and operations departments should continue to be done through the existing procedure, except that for promotion to Group ‘A’ IRLogS, there will be a common seniority list drawn up of all Group ‘B’ officers belonging to different departments.

Fixation of inter se seniority: Determination of inter-se seniority of officers belonging to various cadres recruited from different channels has always been a contentious issue in IR. With the merger and consolidation of the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services at lower levels and three services at middle management levels, a credible manner for evolving a merged seniority list of the various batches will have to be adopted. In the first instance,this will include drawing up common seniority list for IRLogS and IRTechS within the two sub-groups, and then a combined seniority list of officers belonging to both these sub-groups. More importantly, the combined seniority lists will be required not only for fresh recruits, but also for those already in service with long years already spent in the IR system. While this Committee admittedly does not possess the expertise to work out the common inter se seniority of Group ‘A’ officers of the two services (IRLogS & IRTechS), and this should ideally be worked out in detailed consultation with UPSC and domain experts, we do wish to underline that a credible and equitable methodology for the purpose is a sine qua non for the proposed restructuring . Unless a satisfactory formulation is evolved and executed, recommendations on restructuring of Group ‘A’ services in Railways will essentially remain a non-starter.

Lateral entry:This Committee found that although there are some IR officers who proceed on deputation to other Ministries in the Central Government under the Central Staffing Scheme, this number is quite small and is largely restricted to deputation at Deputy Secretary/Director level posts,with the exception of a few at the JS level. This Committee observed that performance of IR officers on deputation has been largely of high standards, and that these officers have also been enriched by such exposure and experience. However, this Committee notes that there is virtually no deputation of officers of All India Services/Other Central Group ‘A’ services to IR. Consequently, IR suffers from inbreeding and is deprived of the benefit of services of officers with a wider set of competencies and varied experience. As such, this Committee is of the view that lateral movement of officers, both from outside to IR and from IR to outside, should be encouraged, without adversely impacting delivery of Railway services. The lateral entry/movement should be permitted both in non-technical and technical departments, respectively based on the Central Staffing Scheme pattern. This Committee further feels that in order to enhance the acceptability of such a proposition: (a) The number of posts to which deputations (lateral entry from outside) are to be permitted must be clearly identified, based on a rational criteria; (b) Inflow of talent from outside, such as chartered accountants, cost accountants, bankers, financial management experts in financial management posts, personnel from CPWD,research assistants from leading labs and universities (IITs etc.), scientists from Government labs etc. (to join RDSO and training institutions)on deputation should be encouraged; (c) A system of balancing has to be devised so as to ensure that career advancement of Railway officers is not adversely impacted. This can be done by ensuring a net outflow of Railway officers (i.e. number of Railway officers on deputation minus number of other services officers coming on deputation to Railways) is retained at present levels; (d) Deputation of officers well conversant with Finance, PPP, resource mobilization etc. in other wings of the Government,can be effected through the Central Staffing Scheme. These could be to general management and financial management posts in the Railway Board, technical posts in RDSO, as faculty to NAIR and other training institutions.

Proposed Changes at Board Level.


I will end this article with following quote said by Paul Theroux, The Imperial Way, 1983.

India is a vast and complex place. The phones seldom work, the mail is unreliable, the electricity is liable to sudden stoppages. There are numerous natural disasters and there are 800 million people. It is almost inconceivable that the country is stillviable……Towards the end of my Indian journey I decided that India runs primarilybecause of the railway……It is impossible to imagine India without the railway, or tothink what could possibly replace it