Railways set November deadline for cadre merger plan
The Union cabinet in December 2019 approved the restructuring -- trimming the Railway Board’s strength to half (from 8 to 4) and unifying its eight railways services into a central service in a bid to reform the 150-year-old Railway Board of the Indian Railways.Updated: Aug 06, 2020 21:38 IST
The unification of eight major cadres of the Indian Railways into one single service the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) has been set a target of being completed by November this year, according to officials aware of the development.
Union railway minister Piyush Goyal and railway board chairman VK Yadav on Wednesday held a consultation with railway unions and representatives from some of the railway services.
The Union cabinet in December 2019 approved the restructuring -- trimming the Railway Board’s strength to half (from 8 to 4) and unifying its eight railways services into a central service in a bid to reform the 150-year-old Railway Board of the Indian Railways.
“We met with the minister to discuss the issue of IRMS…The official side mentioned that they were contemplating uniform promotion for all services till HAG based on best performing service in the grade for Senior Administrative Grade (SAG)/ Higher Administrative Grade (HAG)…Future recruitment of IRMS through a CSE while technical specialists will be recruited through RDSO (The Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO),” said one of the officials who attended the meeting.
RDSO is the national transporter’s research and development organisation.
Three of the existing railway services are recruited through the civil service exam while the rest five are technical services which are recruited through the Engineering Services Exam.
“The merger is targeted to be completed before November. All the posts of merged cadre will be open for all members of IRMS. Fresh recruitment to IRMS will be done from the UPSC Civil service exam. Posts requiring technical expertise like those in RDSO will be filled up by different process like the way it is done in ISRO/DRDO,” another official said requesting anonymity.
“Formula for integrated seniority is still under discussion and it is expected that the scheme suggested by the Debroy committee will be adopted…However CRB clearly mentioned that seniority will not be that significant for deciding key positions and some element of merit is being introduced,” the official added.
The unification of services had earlier been proposed by various committees that studied ways of reforming the Indian Railways including the Prakash Tandon Committee (1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Sam Pitroda Committee (2012) the and Bibek Debroy Committee (2015).
In the meeting several services raised concerns over career growth and promotions. According to officials present in the meeting the railway board chairman communicated that seniority will not be that significant for deciding key positions and some element of merit will be introduced adding that “career growth will be liked with the organisation’s growth.“
The Railways have also hired consultancy firm, McKinsey, to finalise the modalities of the cadre merger.
The modalities and unification of the services will be worked out by the rail ministry in consultation with the Department of Personnel and Training. The process was scheduled to be completed within a year.
The proposals will be finalised by an eight-member committee constituted last month by the railway board for looking into re-skilling of the staff. Separately, the Centre had also formed a group of secretaries headed by the cabinet secretary for implementing the exercise of restructuring the board; this committee includes the Chairman, Railway Board, the DOPT secretary and the secretary of the department of expenditure. This committee will assist the group of ministers constituted by the government for formalizing the restructured railway board. The GOM will be formed after the recommendations of the committee.
The chairman said that there is a need to change organisational structure and work culture as well as work profile at senior levels. It was pointed out that service specialisation has not been very effective as even with specialists in the railway board and RDSO; we are nowhere near Korean or Japanese Technology. Supervisory cadre needs to be strengthened, while the focus should be on bringing down manpower cost of maintenance,” the official quoted above said.
The proposed organizational reforms were aimed at ending the division of the mammoth organisation into different departments. The Indian Railways employs nearly 1.3 million people and its trains carried 2.3 million passengers every day before the lockdown. The government has said the move was aimed at ending a legacy marked by inefficiency in work, infighting over control of assets and resources, and delays in decision-making.
Indian Railways is also mulling merging several junior and mid-level posts as part of its plans to rationalize the organisation and making it leaner, following the Union Cabinet’s nod for merging its eight major cadres into a central service-- Indian Railway Management Service, Hindustan Times had reported on June 10.
The rail ministry has drafted a proposal based on recommendations from all railway zones for merging key posts in the accounts, commercial, electrical, mechanical, engineering, medical, personnel, operating, stores, and signal & telecommunication departments, and also other miscellaneous posts.