The Modi government has taken a momentous decision approving the restructuring of the Indian Railways. In the revamped structure passed by the PM Modi-led cabinet, the Railway Board will now have Members for Infrastructure, Rolling Stock and Traction, Finance, Operations and Business Development. A statement issued by the Indian Railways said that the government has taken a bold and historic decision of restructuring the Railways organisation to break a 150-year-old legacy.
Besides, the cabinet has also given its nod to the merger of railway cadres. The eight Group A services of the Indian Railway will now be unified into a central service called Indian Railway Management Services (IRMS). The existing service of the Indian Railway Medical Services(IRMS) will be rebranded as Indian Railway Health Services(IRHS).
The creation of the IRMS will be done in consultation with DoPT and UPSC to facilitate recruitment in the next year. The modalities and unification of the services will be worked out by the Ministry of Railways in consultation with DoPT with the approval of Alternative Mechanism to be appointed by Cabinet in order to ensure fairness and transparency. The process shall be completed within a year.
Railway Board will no longer be organised on departmental lines, & replaced with a
leaner structure organised on functional lines. It will have a Chairman, who will act as ‘Chief Executive Officer (CEO)’ along with 4 Members responsible for Infrastructure, Operations & Business Development, Rolling Stock and Finance respectively. The Chairman shall be the cadre controlling officer responsible for Human resources (HR) with assistance from a DG (HR). The Board will have distinguished professionals with experience and 30 years of experience as Independent Members.
Putting an end to the “Departmentalism” of the Indian Railway that has long hobbled its progress, the move to amalgamate the disparate services by the Modi government is aimed to break the 150-year-old legacy of the Indian Railways and will put an end to the culture of working in ‘silos’ and expedite decision making and enabling coherent vision for the organisation.
These reforms were long overdue as the Indian Railway, unlike the Railway organisations across the world, is not corporatised but managed by the government of India. There are various departments such as Traffic, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal and Telecom, etc. The departments are vertically divided and each department is headed by a Secretary level officer in the Railway Board. As a result, such an arrangement engendered the culture of working in silos.
With these reforms, the government will not only achieve unification of diverse services but it will also succeed in improving efficiency and fixing accountability for the lapses, that so far eluded Indian Railway. The reorganisation will provide the officers with the ownership of the projects their service may have previously opposed. Promotion of such officers will be based on their performances in these projects.
The reorganisation will also save cost to the Indian Railway as duplication of the efforts, which hitherto happened, will be stopped. The faster implementation of the projects will ensure that the cost overruns are kept in check. The entire array of services will be thrown open for the Railway staff to learn which will train them to be a multitasker and acquaint them with newer skills that will expand their horizons of job specialisation.
According to the Modi government, the reforms that have been initiated today are in line with the recommendations suggested by various committees in the last 25 years. This reorganisation includes recommendations from Prakash Tandon report(1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee(2001), Sam Pitroda Committee(2012) and Bibek Debroy Committee(2015).
The reforms were undertaken with an overwhelming support of the Railway officers during the two-day conference”Parivartan Sangoshthi” held in New Delhi on 7th and 8th December 2019.