Problems of Working in Railways


Hello Everyone,
I found a letter where an IRSE officer describes the deteriorating condition of working in railways. My intention has been to put everything available with me on the table.  This article is all about the problems faced by young officers of railways in the filed. This not the whole picture, it primarily represents one department working in open line. You shouldn’t make your judgement just on the basis of one or two articles. Every jobs has its pros and cons. Today it’s the turn of presenting cons before you, after all world is not the bed of roses.

 


Respected Sir,

This letter is an effort to save Indian Railways from the misdirected policies and practices that have crept into daily operations of Railways. This is not an effort to malign the much revered institution in any way, but to highlight the shortcomings and the plight of faceless field staff, who are putting their blood into the system. Nor is it an attempt to run away from responsibilities. We are a dedicated and concerned lot who takes pride in being part of the organisation and in what we do.

We will be focussing only on the spine of Indian Railways, i.e. Engineering Department, which is suffering the most amongst all the departments. That doesn’t mean other departments enjoy comfortable working as they too suffer different type of disabilities. But Engineering being one of the oldest departments and being the custodian of huge Indian Railways assets deserves to be heard first and foremost.

Mostly the problems concern with the field level because it is the level where most of the Engineering Department’s activities are performed. But first, we want you to please note a few details about three main actors involved at the field level, viz, the Track Maintainer, the PWI, and the ADEN.

Track Maintainer (Trackman)

He goes about performing his duty starting his day at around 06:00. At times he travels 10-15 Km. to get to his place of work, to and fro. He returns by 07:00 – 08:00 in the evening. Still he’s a proud worker and loves what he does.

At Group D level, a trackman does far more hard labour than any other employee among all departments. There have been many cases where a trackman has prevented some serious accidents because he is the one who is out there on track in extreme weather conditions to ensure safe running of trains but is not paid even a single extra penny for that. For him overtime allowance exists only on paper, if at all. In the current scenario when trains are running at over 120 Kmph, the job of trackmen has become more important as well as risky. Cases of trackmen being run over by train or getting severely injured are very common.

Senior Section Engineer – Pway (PWI)

He wakes up latest by 06:00 in the morning, prepare distribution of work for about 200 Trackmen under him by 07:30, goes on with his daily work by 08:00, work till 7, 8 sometimes 11:00 in the night. This, he has to do 7 days a week, 365 days of a year, 35 years of his service. He is directly responsible for safety of track as well any activity that happens in his section. In the age of mechanisation when workforce is getting reduced on one hand and not able to provide adequate machineries and equipment on the other, PWI is asked to increase efficiency of work with the same set of old-age and condemned equipment and scarce Pway material. His main strength is the trackman who is expected to do serious physical labour. Making his task difficult are the trackmen of today, with graduate and post graduate qualifications, having serious problem with physical labour.

He hardly gets (or takes) any leave. He has to work in night soil and muck dropped all over the places.  He’s the coordinator of all field activities concerning all the other departments. He also has to share his staff with other departments for their associated work; which he does without any qualms. A PWI represents all other field staff of railways. He has to work with multiple bosses, contractors, gang staff, other departments, state authorities, towards fulfilling his duty.

ADEN

The post of ADEN is considered to be the most charismatic post in Indian railways. Once, with staff under him numbering over 1000, what cannot be achieved if he decides? He is the creator of huge infrastructure of railways which catches anybody’s imagination. Big vintage bungalow adds to his aura. He is the leader of his team, consisting PWI’s, IOW’s and trackmen, and the sole authority on field for what is to be and not to be. An ADEN is the flag bearer of his sub-division. Other departments and HQ’s expect a lot from him. He is the man to go in case of urgency/ emergency.

Today’s state is as follows. With over 30-40% vacancies, most of the specialised posts being surrendered, decaying works cadre and staff, office staff remaining a third of what it was, contractor agencies getting unduly favoured, with punitive powers gone, with the traffic and no. of activities multiplied manifolds, the ADEN has become a mere shadow of his prime. Combined with detached attitude from the HQ it is becoming increasingly difficult to carry out duties. With increased expectations, same old methods and punishment oriented approach is expected to work, not realising times have changed since they were at the field and needing different strategies. It is not our intention to revive the institution of ADEN as it was but to highlight the poor conditions which will definitely lead to disaster if timely action is not taken.

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With this background we would now like to raise issues being faced by railways needing urgent attention.

  1. Detached HQ

It is for your information Sir, being posted as an ADEN is the most challenging time an IRSE has to face. Unfortunately as officers go higher up they forget how work used to be carried out when they were ADEN. Please compare following facts with 15 years ago. The number of staff, the variety of staff, the number of office supervisors and draughtsman, the quantum of traffic, the frequency of trains, the number of activities one had to deal at a time, the nature of workforce, the demand from the system and the kind of discipline that existed. All of it has changed, and changed drastically. Earlier there was higher tolerance for accidents and reporting was very less. Now even a minor incident travels at lightning speed to every nook and corner of the country. Orders conveying strong message are issued in minutes. Today it is said that we have stronger track structure and you don’t need men as you now have machines. But it is a false assumption. Agreed that Track structure has improved, but so has the traffic which has become more than thrice. So has the speed. So has the number of trains. There is acute scarcity of material and machines, and blocks/ caution-orders for maintenance not available, compromising safety.

Please look into how many machines are there, zone wise. Are they sufficient to meet maintenance requirements of track as per schedule? Is sufficient/proper block time is given for their working? Are proper speed restrictions being imposed as per manual? Answers would be unsatisfactory, missing the theory by miles! Day by day the responsibility for owing up to failures is being shifted upwards. ‘Hang the ADEN, which will give a strong message’. Dear Sir, what kind of a system is this which is more interested in sending a message rather than solving the problem. The unfortunate ground reality is that it will not bring an iota of change to the field staff, as they are already overburdened to have time to fear. But yes it does send a message to that field staff, that one does not have any support from the HQ. You are on your own. It’s better to not do the work, or do it on paper and relax, because there’s an equal cost to doing or not doing the work.

As for the ADEN, he already has a written schedule of inspection of 45 days which he has to complete in 30 days. Add to it the multifarious activities, shrinking staff, unruly staff and supervisors, increasing interference from Unions in daily working, absence of works cadre, no authority to punish for wrongdoing, no authority to take important decisions which has been usurped by HQ’s, no assistance in office work, non-cooperative departments in a maddening race to prove their superiority over others, burden of reporting to anybody and everybody senior to you that too instantly, ever-increasing protocol duties towards seniors with whom he and his team has to accompany without a choice. In addition he has to liaison with state authorities, do variety of Surveys, prepare designs/drawings, and send reports/data in a variety of formats. In such a scenario how can one have a family life or a holiday or have time for himself?

ADEN has to do his night inspections either as part of schedule or as part of surprise inspection. Such inspections are done after working for a full day. After the night inspection if he sleeps at 05:00 in the morning there is no time for rest as the phone calls invariably start by 07:00 Hrs. and a full day starts again. Despite the poor state of affairs, focus is put more on how things look rather than how efficiently trains are run. A misplaced priority please.

  1. Scarcity of Funds

Railways need money. Money to build infrastructure, build capabilities, to provide quality services, to provide variety of services, to build up workforce, to maintain assets, etc. With great past record Railways is now focussing on quality. We are making our stations and coaches cleaner and services better. But we are forgetting the hands that are bringing these changes on field. They are still living in dilapidated houses and surroundings, with rudimentary water and electricity supplies. Spending on quarters and facilities is never justified. How are we supposed to bring change on ground without changing the mentality of staff and improving their living conditions?

Dr. Anil Kakodkar headed High Level Safety Review Committee noted in its report that the ‘present environment on Indian Railways reveals a grim picture of inadequate performance’ largely due to poor infrastructure and resources, and lack of empowerment at the functional level. It has given several recommendations having no financial implications to empower the functional levels and to simplify processes and procedures to deal with this negative feature. IR has to be energized with a new type of work culture, it further stated.

 

  1. Misdirected Policies

Through this letter we want to help explore where the bloodline of India is heading. What is the purpose of this service? Is it social service? Is it profit making? Is it capacity building? Be an efficient and punctual mode of transport? Or for building infrastructure? Surely it is all of the above. But what are our priorities? Do we want to earn more disregarding the safety of passengers? Priorities must be decided at your level sir. At ground level it is now understood that Punctuality is inviolable, even more than Safety. We are literally forced to beg in front of Operating staff and Controllers to let us do our job. We are forced to impose emergencies due to things not getting addressed by usual channels, and rectifying the same within shortest time and unusual hours.

Or is it to push ground staffs to the extent that they get all the poor lifestyle diseases or even die because of them? Sir, ask any railway doctor, he will tell you railway employees overburden. Every second person is having sugar or BP or both. This is the nature of job they have to perform, without questioning the authority. Many employees have actually died early of lifestyle diseases, especially those who have spent the bulk of their carrier on field.

Railways is a discipline oriented organisation. In practical terms abuses are hurled every minute on the field. It is impossible to do job without abuses and charge sheets, bringing us to point out misdirected policy in recruitment.

The workforce is overqualified for the job. With respect to the current working, a Trackman should have 10th pass as the maximum qualification. Today we have M.Com’s, MCA’s, MBA’s, etc. as the new generation of Trackman. Many of them are here only because they need a job, not because they like the nature of job. It is hard to expect them to work in muck, and do manual labour. And of what use is the education which is used for making excuses for not doing work or to reply back to the supervisors. We’re sorry to say this Sir, but this policy is burdening the system with useless hands.

Along with the overqualified staff the induction of female workers for trackman job is difficult to realise on the field as it requires hard manual labour. Most of the times they either can’t do such work or pressure is put on open line supervisors to give them office jobs. Holding nothing against female workforce, the induction of women as trackman needs to be reviewed.

Third is the issue of vacancies. We have to wait for vacancy to go up to 30-40%, which when filled up never reaches 100%. Dear Sir, we are performing a job of safety. We can’t afford to have any vacancy. Vacancy is infringing with safety, and the field staff had to bear the additional burden of work for years. This is valid especially after the downsizing of the organisation and unreasonable burden put by successive Pay Commissions and Finance. A good number of overqualified new recruitees leave the organisation, or go to other departments, or remain in place with distaste for the job.

Fourth, due to downsizing various specialised and critical posts vanished from the organisation. Ideally those functions should also be eliminated. Not surprisingly, it did not happen. Artisan staff is almost gone. Onus lies with the Supervisors to train available staff for the artisans job, arrange tools for them, and carry out all the functions as smoothly as it was ever used to be. Works cadre is almost destroyed, as with shortage of staff, poor recruitment of supervisors, apathy from HQ and a variety of poor contractors, contributing to its obsolescence. Finance wing being more interested in surrendering posts every year without logic, not realising the importance of a Valveman or Safaiwala in the system.

Fifth is the policy of easy promotions for Supervisors. Earlier it took decades for Supervisors to reach SSE level. By putting this fact we want to convey that SSE’s in Indian Railways are equipped with immense experience and act as the storehouse of institutional memory. The whole system is pretty much dependent on this level. But now anybody and everybody is getting promoted to the SSE level, without possessing requisite technical knowledge. The problem is going to become worse in the coming years when good quality supervisors will be hard to find. It is one thing to give financial upgradation, but totally different to expect to work like an experienced supervisor. The fact is usually overlooked in practise and the burden is borne by others.

Sixth, pampering Unions and not following up. Unions are becoming dominating at field level, especially on Personnel matters. It is not conducive for smooth running of administration as the impact is borne by field staff. You also loose the power to enforce discipline. They have done a good job in bringing a once a week assured rest order for supervisors. Such a rest should be there for In-charge and ADEN too. A pressure job like this needs timely rest.

Seventh, with time new lines are opened, new assets created, new activities started. As if there was surplus staff available at field, they are invariably diverted or assigned additional duties without diluting current responsibilities. Sir, please acknowledge that Railways is not just like any other Govt. establishment where field staff can be diverted or responsibilities can be diluted without much loss to administration’s working. Field staff here is associated with Safety, and these staffs work day and night, with concentration and hard labour. The cost of diluting current responsibilities is very high, which can prove to be disastrous. With Zero Accident Mission in place, patrolling is now usually done throughout the year as each season has a critical effect on track behaviour. Patrolling by current staff is having the most prominent effect on the maintenance of track as the staff is not available for the same during times of patrolling.

Eight, the categorisation of all Gang staff into Track Maintainer I, II, III, IV and lack of clarity on practical issues has led to disruption in the control over gang units. Due to Restructuring, TM automatically getting promoted to higher grade pay and hence refusing to take on the responsibility of Mate. Otherwise they give refusal to higher grade pay to take benefit of LARSGESS scheme. Either way proper Mate cannot be assigned to a unit and hence there is the problem of control. Also, employees coming via LARSGESS got the job without facing any competition; hence don’t know the value of their job or many times lack sincerity.

  1. Scarcity of Material

It flows directly from scarcity of funds. At times, conditions become so bad that we have to compromise safety. At many places you would find material have deteriorated to such an extent resulting in poor riding quality and requiring replacement soon. Yet HQ would frown upon as if it is asked for personal reasons. They mind it very much if you ask for it in writing, and further repercussions. It is hard to put speed restrictions or stop traffic. All this can be avoided if we have sufficient stock of materials. Timely replacement of assets is vital to ensure safety of trains. Most of the time replacement is sanctioned after the asset has crossed its life as per code, when a higher official notices it and ask for the replacement. In the meanwhile if something happens, the onus lies on field staff for not imposing speed restriction or stopping traffic.

  1. Scarcity of Labour

Shortage of departmental labour is dealt above. It is said that now there are numerous agencies available at field level. Practically, more often than not it is the same agency who has taken multiple contracts in a Division/Zone. And it is beyond their capacity to increase labour, being the costliest item in any work. Plus there are not many ways to force an agency to do exactly as it is required. High level of supervision is required to ensure quality. One can’t go on terminating private players as there are not many. It is a technical field and requires huge capital backing. Even if this point is disregarded, agencies don’t want to go beyond stations or work at odd hours. And thus we can’t rely on them in case of emergencies. For this reason we require a strong and dedicated departmental workforce, and hence is the demand.

  1. Scarcity of Machines

Point already elaborated earlier. It can only be addressed if problem of funding is dealt with. It is not possible to do what is required with current stock and condition. Requirement wise analysis needs to be done and procurement to be done at the earliest.

  1. Situation of Offices

The on-field offices of railway employees are in shambles. Money demanded for necessary spending is rejected-not-justified. Daily activities are asked to be carried out with meagre imprest. The number of Office Supervisors has reduced a lot. Experienced one’s are retiring, new one’s are either not interested or not able to do it all in the world of ever increasing reporting and compliances, and the quantum of work. Old ones are unable to cope with new information age of computers and smartphones. HQs don’t pay heed and the burden of reporting is borne by the field offices and officers like ADEN, ADSTE, ADEE, etc.

  1. Abusive Environment

Unfortunately Railways has become an organisation where if you don’t look strong you are labelled ineffective. Concepts like team building, synergy, counselling and appreciation just don’t exist. It might have been possible in the past when the Trackmen were not too much qualified and discipline was held sacrosanct, and line of command used to work perfectly. Not in today’s time, when everyone is well learned, and has options beyond a meagre paying job. They are more concerned about their rights rather than duties. It’s not bad to have learned people in your workforce, or to demand rights, but in this case it is to be analysed if it is okay to have it, and what needs to be done in the changed context. Otherwise it creates bad environment at the field level. The issue here is making policies according to the changed context.

  1. Problem of Blocks. Punctuality over Safety.

Sir, as stated earlier also we face a lot of problems in getting blocks for maintenance operations. Operating Department holds the key to giving blocks. Mostly Pway staff has to chase it as if it’s his personal work. Sometimes it becomes a matter of weeks till he get a block, ‘managing’ safety at his level. Also every time he would be there with his staff, waiting at the site till the time there is hope of getting the block. What a terrible waste of resources when you have so little! Sir, why haven’t we developed a transparent mechanism where a representative from Pway side can book a block and he will be told beforehand the day when the block is expected. And the block is given no matter how on the same day, as it is a matter of safety. Same should also happen when there is an emergency. It’s left to your good judgement sir, what is more important to us, Revenue/Punctuality or Safety. To maintain the assets in good condition timely blocks are very important, no matter what. Engineering staff is forced to compromise on safety on regular basis as blocks and caution orders are not been given easily. With ever increasing traffic, pressure on pway assets is on the rise which further accelerates the wear and tear, and requires frequent attention. If existing assets are not given timely attention they have to be replaced at a much faster pace, again putting a burden on railways financial resources.  Operating department gives the block and caution orders whenever it is convenient. Safety has to be given precedence otherwise results may be catastrophic.

  1. Workload

An ADEN is overall in charge of the subdivision. He has to take care of Pway as well as Works. He has huge workload. He has to conduct daily inspection of track, inspection of bridges and yards, monthly day and night footplates, other night inspections, filling inspections in TMS, test check of various contractual work under his jurisdiction, ensuring quality of the work being done, check every bill, manage blocks, attend blocks, ensure compliances, attend HQ meetings, chase material procurement, manage contracts and labour, liaison with state authorities, accompany higher officials on their inspection, looking after the passenger amenities, dealing with complaints of unions and staff, looking after the welfare of the staff, their allowances, their medical etc. Apart from all these he has to prepare reports, proposals, sign hundreds of papers etc. It is becoming increasingly difficult to cope up with such work pressure. Leaves are denied for some reason or the other. Continuously working under such pressure takes a toll on mind as well as body. Familial and other responsibilities becomes secondary resulting in tensions across all dimensions of life.

  1. Multifarious Activities

Sir, activities like tree plantation, skill upgradation, holding seminars/camps, cleanliness drives, etc, are noble and essential activities. We want to be a part of all such initiatives, but despite having best of intentions we don’t get extra funds, staff, time and resources to carry out the same. Our core duty is to run trains safely, which requires immense concentration and inputs from staff and officers. Such activities asking for involvement from higher officials actually puts burden on field level only. We are unable to handle so many protocol movements, compliances, and do our job effectively. Again we want to reiterate that Railways, especially at field level, is unlike any other Govt. organisation.

 

*******

 

Although we spoke only about the engineering department, but problems of various kinds also exists in other departments as well. For example, Mechanical/Electrical department might use old/dysfunctional parts in locos and coaches or Operating department do not always lock hand operated points due to shortage of staff or send shunting master without proper authority, etc. Some problems are common while others unique. But engineering being the biggest and the most critical department can lead the way towards the desired change.

We hope that the points highlighted above are constructive in nature, and would lead to a change for a better future. Otherwise the environment at field level is becoming demotivating. We are forced to question why we chose this service after getting the best ranks. We were warned that it will be very demanding still we took the job. But with increasing expectations and quantum of work it is becoming increasingly difficult to fulfil the duties effectively.

By addressing the letter to you Sir, we don’t imply that the Railway Board is failing in its duty. There are some issues which may have been overlooked or needs attention as per field requirement. It is a technical organisation and technical persons are the best judge to decide the future course. And a railway man is always an able administrator for the job.

We feel we should have to focus on our core responsibilities, not be swayed by populist demands or cosmetic changes and work more transparently so as to develop faith.

 

Anonymous

One Year at Indian Railways


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At IRICEN, Faculty and Probationers

Recently, IRSE 2013 batch completed one year of service in Indian Railways. One year in any organization is not long enough to understand the intricate details of the system. Not many among us can say that we now know everything about Railways,at best we have only got the opportunity to look through the widow into this huge organization. Whatever we have know in last year has overwhelmed us in its complexity and magnificence.

Last one year has been filled with many eventful moments in the journey of life as well as the train. As a passenger, we may not appreciate the the work that Railways do. Its primary role is of transporting people from their place of origin to their place of destination safely. This business of transportation may seem to be devoid of any essence and work satisfaction. Let me tell you that opposite is the case here. Indian Railways is a world in itself with its different organizations as the family members. Railway board sits at the apex of family tree, controlling everyone in most of the aspects of their working. Various zones are like cousins, some big ,some small. General Manager is the paternal figure of the Zone. Similarly, Divisional Railway Manager is the apex authority at division. The basic functional unit of working is division. It is from here that operation starts and goes upto Railway Board. For you to travel in train, it takes effort of thousand of people to complete you journey, from origin to destination.

Importance of railways shouldn’t be looked only form point of view of a commercial transporter. I think it would be fair to say that Airports doesn’t represent the majority of us, it is the railway station which is the microcosm of India. At railway stations we are witness to every aspect of life, from birth to death, the railway stations of India forms an integral part of average Indian. Railways stations are lodging places for homeless, railways tracks are infamous for open defecation and suicide. It is hard to accept this fact that so much of engineering is tarnished by the insensible acts of people. But this doesn’t represent failure of railways, it is our collective failure that after 68 years of freedom, poverty and illiteracy, malnutrition and mortality, absence of hygiene and drinking water is persistent reality and you come to know this only when you travel  in Indian Railways.

Sometimes rail journey should be undertaken to feel the discomfort of masses.In last one year, we have traveled in every part of train, from engine to guard vain. When you make a transition from AC 1 to unreserved , you see  classic example of class difference. In AC 1 politicians travel , who represent the masses travelling in unreserved coaches. I am not saying that there should be no AC 1 but there should not be any unreserved coaches where people are stuffed like animals.

I strongly believe that development of Railways is the parameter of growth for National Economy. When you go to a railway station and don’t find any change, it is for granted that there has been no significant change in lives of average Indian. Until, the distressed faces of rural workers replaces well fed and well dressed people boarding the train , take it for granted that there has been no ‘Acche Din’. Until the passenger travelling on the floor of coaches get confirm seats, there has been no ‘Acche Din’. Until TTE treat you with respect, there has been no ‘Acche Din’.

As a probationer, we had the opportunity to travel the length and breath of this great country, we can proudly say that Indian Railways truly call itself the ‘Lifeline of Nation’. It takes the workforce of around 12 lakhs to keep this life line functioning, day and night. It is necessary for the government of the day to infuse some vitality in this lifeline.

Railways should be seen as more than a transporter,it the collective heritage of our national identity persisting through best and worst of times.

Thanks
 

 

 

 

Profile of E&C Engineer in Indian Railways


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In this article we will look at the work profile of Electronics Engineer in Indian Railways. As a part of ongoing series, this is the second installment of work profiles of engineers recruited through IES in Indian Railways.

There is Signaling and telecommunication department in Indian Railways where you will be posted as ASTE after your joining. S&T and department plays vital role in safe running of trains in Indian Railways. There was a time when police men on horses used to give signal for the running of trains. Now we have moved a great deal ahead in terms of providing a reliable and safe method of working for the movements of trains. Have you ever wondered while looking at the signal adjacent to railway line? If you have then it would be even more interesting to actually understand the working of signals. To an outsider, railways signals present quite a challenge to decipher but after joining Railways you will be talking in terms of outer, home, starter and advanced starter.

Let’s Look at organization of this department before proceeding ahead.

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Work Profile-

Open Line:-Your first posting will be as an Assistant Divisional Signal and Telecom Engineer. Typically a fresh recruit is placed here, to give him the first-hand knowledge of working of Indian Railways. Your responsibilities will be numerous; the primary one will be to ensure proper working of signal in your sub-division. Basically, in 150-200km stretch even if one signal fail, you will be held responsible. After signals there are lot of other devices and equipment’s such as axle counters, point machines, track circuits, block instruments, RRI, PRI etc. If any of this malfunction, the movements of train will come to standstill. This will be also your responsibility to maintain or get it replaced on time. In Railways you will find those technologies which are difficult to find elsewhere. Telecommunications system of IR is one of the most vital assets, I can’t describe them here in detail but they can broadly be classified as administrative and operational. Administrative system consists of Communication amongst Area Control Office, Divisional Offices, Zonal Offices, Railway Board office etc.  Operational system consist of Control Communication  Hot lines for train operation ,Magneto phone communication for L/C  ,Block phone commn,Pagers for train crew etc. In addition, the telecommunications play a vital role in the areas of passenger amenities and disaster management. There is more in terms of technology than you can think of, if you are interested in it.

You will have sub-ordinates working under your jurisdiction but you will be executive head in Sub-division. As you move in ladder, natures of responsibilities shift along with jurisdictional area.

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 you technical skills are put to test, how much skill you have being an IES.  You will have to propose solutions to any problem arising out of technical difficulties.

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. One of the examples can be Anti Collision Device developed by Konkan Railways. Actually, there is lot of research you can do for IR.  Can you develop a new signaling system which can improve the line capacity without compromising on safety and speed? The challenge is upto you to take. Development of high speed trains needs a very reliable and safe signaling system. There are lots of other area where technologies can be integrated for which electronics engineer are necessary.

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 not so early in the career. After five years, you can take leave for higher studies from foreign universities.

Words of advice-You must keep in mind that after all you will be working in a Government Organization. It will not be free from malaise of a typical ‘sarkari naukari’. You can’t expect the work environment like Google or Microsoft because of obvious reasons. If Railways become more professional over the years, it will be the one of best place for engineers even edging top MNC’s. IES is the place for those who are interested in engineering and technology and I have always stressed that interest in technical matters is key requisite for successful career in IES. So, I wish you all the luck for your future ahead.

Words of Caution– Although I work in railways, i have written this article from my own experience of this department, as an outsider. I may have missed something or made error while describing work profile. I would welcome further suggestion for improvement in this article.

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?

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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)

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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.

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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

Provision and Methodology for transfer of Service Agreement Bond


Hello Readers,
It is the follow up of prvious article in which Ayush Srivastava did a comparative analysis of his working experience at IOCL and subsequestly at railways. In this article he explains provision and methodology for transfer of Service Agreement Bond while switching from a PSU to Indian Railways through ESE. He can be reached at  Ayush Srivastava.


Hello Folks!!!

This is Ayush Srivastava, IRSE Probationer, 2013-exam batch. I find pleasure in introducing myself, briefly as follows:

Graduation: B Tech (Civil) from Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal.

Graduating year: 2013           Graduating GGPA: 9.41/10.00            PG: None

GATE-2013 AIR: 84                Engineering Services Exam-2013 AIR: 23

Campus Selection: IOCL          GATE Recruitment: IOCL

I have decided to talk about the transfer of bond, specifically from IOCL to railways, as I was involved with the same two organizations and since it is more of a legal kind of thing, I cannot and will not misguide you by writing anything and everything here in a generalized manner. I am sorry if this doesn’t concern you.
First of all, please be aware that there is a Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) guideline referred as DPE O.M. No. 15(2)/2003-DPE(GM)/GL-57 dated 29th July, 2004 which clearly states that “The bond executed by employees of the Public Enterprises, who have received scientific/technical training at the cost of Public Enterprises and have applied through proper channel during the currency of the bond join Central Govt./State Govt. services or take up employment under quasi-government organizations or any other public enterprise either on the basis of competition examinations/tests/interviews organized by those organizations or the Union Public Service Commission should not be enforced subject to the condition that a fresh bond is taken to ensure that the employee serves the new employer for the balance of the original bond period.” The above guideline can be checked hereunder: http://www.dpe.nic.in/important_links/dpe_guidelines/personnel_policies/glch2dindex/glch02d31 .

You should apply through proper channel for ESE (which you would) and intimate in prior, to your controlling authority at your current job in the concerned PSU, while applying for the ESE (at the beginning while filling up the form and not wait till you clear the written exam). Many times, the HR personnel in the PSUs take it as leverage for not transferring your bond, in case you have not intimated through proper channel while applying for the ESE.

An important point to understand here is that in case you are a fresh pass-out and have applied and appeared in the written exam of ESE prior to joining, then off-course applying through so called proper channel doesn’t apply, as you were not a part of your current PSU, while you applied and wrote for the exam. However, it is suggested to intimate in writing, to your boss, that you have applied and written the ESE of the concerned year, which was held prior to your date of joining your current job. This should be done as soon as you join at your first permanent place of posting.

As stated in the above DPE guideline, you need to execute a fresh bond with your current organization for the balance of original period and amount. This bond shall clearly state that you shall serve the department allotted to you through ESE (in our case Railways) for the balance of the original period. In the event of failure to do so on your part, your new department shall realize the proportionate money of the balance bond amount, from you and return to the PSU, with whom you have originally executed the bond. The new department (in my case the railways) shall be custodian of this bond.

Problems Faced:

  1. No official format of fresh bond available, either with IOCL or Railways, which can be used directly.
  2. Convincing the HR personnel of IOCL regarding such a provision of bond transfer. (Though it was not an issue as IOCL has some very good and helpful HR people).
  3. The mechanism of paper work to facilitate the transfer of bond.

 

The above process of bond transfer was challenge for me, and sometimes I thought of giving up. However, fortunately, I came out with flying colors and was the first ex-iocian of ESE-2013 batch (including all services in railways) to get my bond transferred successfully from IOCL to Indian Railways.

First of all, since there is no official format of fresh bond available, either with IOCL or Railways, which can be used directly, you will have to prepare a format on your own and get it verified from HR people in IOCL, well in advance.( If IOCL is OK with the format, then railways have no problem). To prepare the format you may take help form NTPC guys, who have a format of their own, as far as I know. You should pressurize the HR department of your PSU (IOCL in this case) to provide this agreement format. However, at last, if you have to prepare it yourself, you may take the help of a professional lawyer to prepare such a format, or search the internet, if you are lucky. It is quite possible, that seeing the rising number of requests for bond transfer every year, PSUs including IOCL, by now, might have officially prepared such formats for transfer of service bonds from their organization to some other state/central department and you may get saved from this mind-wrecking task.

Regarding having a strong stand for enabling your bond transfer, you should let your HR know about the DPE guidelines, so that you are not denied of your right. As far as railways is concerned, I know and so can say that it is always a plus point, because it is clearly written in the appointment letter, that the railways accept the transfer of bond from PSUs/Central  departments. You should submit a Xerox of your railway appointment letter with your resignation letter to IOCL, in which it should be clearly stated that you want your bond to be transferred as per the relevant DPE guideline.

Once a fresh agreement has been typed on the bond paper, it should be duly signed by you and your surety and then countersigned by the competent personnel in IOCL or accompanied by a letter from IOCL stating the said bond is accepted by them. This letter along with the original bond paper shall be submitted at IRICEN, Pune at the time of joining. The railways shall keep the original bond paper, and send a copy of the same, to IOCL, with a covering letter stating the acceptance of the bond on the part of railways. This marks the completion of the bond transfer process.

P.S.: As per prevailing culture, you will be given a provisional release order from IOCL, on the basis of which you can join the railways. (Without provisional release order you will not be allowed to join).  Once the bond process is completed, IOCL shall dispatch your formal release order to railways, under intimation to you.

I think that’s all of what I am capable of sharing with you. Study hard, study smart and always be clear with your priorities. A life full of dilemmas is like having a bowl full of butter chicken in front of you when you know you can’t eat it because of an upset digestion.

Wishing you all a happy reading and a successful life ahead!!!!!!!

AYUSH SRIVASTAVA

IRSE (P), 2013.

Promotion and Service in Indian Railways


Are promotions slow in IES ?

On paper according to railway policy and central govt. Policy your promotions are time bound i.e. the pay grade will be given to you timely, e.g. when you get JG(Junior Grade), SS(Senior Scale), JAG(Junior Administrative Grade), Selection Grade,SAG(Senior Administrative Grade), HAG(Higher Administrative grade)…etc. will all depend on your no. of years of service since joining (and also your annual performance report APR, which is awarded liberally by your senior unless you have punched him right on face!!!).

But your promotion from one post to higher post i.e. from Den(Divisional Engineer) to Sr.Den, etc. will depend on the vacancy. And why there is a dearth of vacancies at higher post ? To understand this, you have to understand the hierarchical system in railways. We won’t go into details like railway is a 3 tier system, etc., etc. You just need to know like any other hierarchical system this is also a pyramid. Less posts at higher level. As the bigger and bigger batches are recruited every year in railways, one has to wait for the senior to move up to get into a higher chair even if he/she has qualified the grade criteria for the higher post.

This is termed as stagnation in promotion as one is sitting on the same chair like ADEN,even if he has got senior scale (SS).
The reason I said slow and quick are relative terms because we tend to compare present scenario with the previous where recruited batches were small and obviously they had got their promotions as soon as they were eligible by min. Grade criteria.

But is there something to worry?

Well you don’t have to worry from salary (and other perks) point of view because your band pay (and other perks) depends on your grade pay.
But only thing is you may get frustrated while working on same post for years..this is the only problem.

PS: A natural question arises after reading above is why recruitment is so much, that it leads to sluggish promotions?
For now I leave this for readers to think on. There is an answer to everything.

Do we really serve India in Railways?

Are we really serving India in railways? For this you have to define what do you mean by serving India. Do you think working in army, or in police, or in administrative services, or in some NGO is the only way to serve our nation.
Well my dear friend, this is the glorification services on the name of serving India. Have you ever seen any of these working without salary. If they are doing so can they sustain their lives. No they won’t be able to live a day longer to “serve India”.

In railways we are also getting paid for our services, hence like all these services, serving India. In-fact any person employed in government or privately is serving India if he/she remembers to do his/her job honestly.

But if you like me to speak like a politician, here are the facts :

  • By transporting freight of almost everything like coal, we are providing a means for the growth of country.
  • By transporting passengers (in-spite of loss in this business as a whole) we are fulfilling nations need to move.
  • By laying tracks to disconnected areas, we are connecting a world lost in our country (in-spite of negative rate of return).
  • By building bridges we are making lives easier for our fellow countrymen
  • By trying to built bullet train under new Government, we are showcasing our advanced technological abilities.
  • We develop new station and bring out new locomotives for this big organization.
  • We handle huge volume of passengers so that they can reach their destinations safely
  • We are managing one of the biggest rail networks of the world and we are proud of it.

The list is endless by which one can prove railways is serving India (but not free, because there is nothing like free service).

Ravinder
IRSE 2012