Cabinet approves restructuring of Railway Board, merging cadres
The Cabinet recently approved the downsizing of Railway Board which will have four members instead of eight, besides the Chairman, and merging of its cadres and departments into a single entity.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal asserted that the major restructuring will end the 150-year-old legacy of "departmentalism" that was marked by inefficiency and promote smooth working.
Instead of Railway Board Members for traffic, rolling stock, traction, and engineering, the newly constituted board will have one member each for infrastructure, operations and business development, rolling stock, and finance. There will be some independent members with at least 30 years of experience at the top level in industry, finance, economics and management fields, the Minister said.
All the remaining posts of the Railway Board shall be open to all officers regardless of the service to which they belong.
Indian Railways will now have only one cadre - Indian Railway Service - instead of the current eight services for various departments, including engineering, traffic, mechanical, and electrical.
The Railways will have the Railway Protection Force and the Medical Service Department, while all other departments will come under a common Railway Management System.
"The restructuring will ensure the end of departmentalism, promote the smooth working of Railways, expedite, and promote rational decision-making... There is a need for a complete overhaul as there is a 150-years-old legacy of departmentalism in Railways, which was marked by inefficiency in work, in-fighting over control of assets and resources, and delay in decision-making," Goyal said.
The Railway Minister also said that the current structure creates a culture of "working in silos", which negatively impacts the railways.
The creation of the new Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS) will be done in consultation with DoPT and UPSC to facilitate recruitment in the next cycle, the ministry said.
It added that the newly recruited officers will come from engineering and non-engineering disciplines as per need, and posted as per their aptitude and specialisation to allow them to specialise in one field, develop an overall perspective, and prepare them to take up general management responsibilities at senior level.
After the restructuring, 27 new secretary-level posts will be created by upgrading the general manager-level posts, according to officials.
Restructuring of the Railway Board was recommended by several committees over the past 25 years. These included the Prakash Tandon Committee (1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Sam Pitroda Committee (2012), and Bibek Debroy Committee (2015).
The Railways recorded an operating ratio of 98.44 percent in 2017-18 which is the worst in the previous 10 years, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said in a report tabled in Parliament in the recent Winter Session.
A measure of expenditure against revenue, the operating ratio shows how efficiently the Railway is operating and how healthy its finances are. An operating ratio of 98.44 percent means that the Railways spent Rs 98.44 to earn Rs 100.
(Edited by Suman Singh)