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Who is Ashwani Lohani, the ‘turnaround man’ who takes over the Railway Board

Ashwani Lohani, whose departure as Air India CMD was described by an official as “bad news” for the national carrier, is taking over the reins of the Railway Board at a time of crisis for the country’s largest transporter.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2017 22:31 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ashwani Lohani,Indian Railways,Air India
Ashwani Lohani was chairman and managing director of Air India before his new appointment with the Railway Board. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT File Photo)

srinandjha@hindustantimes.com

“The right man for the right job” was the most commonly heard comment on Wednesday evening after Ashwani Lohani, Air India’s chairman and managing director (CMD), was named to replace AK Mital as the chairman of the Railway Board.

The largely positive reaction is credit to the civil officer who earned a reputation for being the ‘turnaround man’.

A 1980-batch officer of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Lohani is credited with turning around the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) during his earlier stints.

A steam enthusiast, he was instrumental in putting up Indian rail heritage on the world map by upgrading the “steam shed” at Rewari. It was because of his initiatives that the Fairy Queen, the world’s oldest steam engine, was run on Indian tracks, setting the Guinness world record in 1998.

In his stint as CMD of Air India, the national carrier posted operational profit in 2015-16 for the first time after its merger. The airline improved its image perception and also made a quantum improvement in its passenger services, besides expanding to various domestic and international destinations.

Holding the Limca National Record for four engineering degree, he is a qualified chartered mechanical engineer from I.Mech. E (UK) and holds degrees equivalent in electrical engineering, metallurgical engineering from the Institute of Engineers of India.

Lohani is also respected for his “inter-personal skills”.

During an earlier stint as the divisional railway manager of Delhi, the Indian Railways received appreciation from the Comptroller and Auditor General in its audit report on the Commonwealth Games. During that period (March 2011 to February 2012), the New Delhi Railway Station was awarded the National Tourism Award in the category of the “most friendly tourist station”.

First Published: Aug 23, 2017 22:31 IST