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Protests against cadre merger continue! Indian Railway Traffic Service Officers want division into two streams

Devanjana Nag
railways

Indian Railways civil servants want the Modi government to change the criteria of selection for high-level posts and divide railway officers into two streams instead of one. The Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) Officers Association, in a formal representation to the PMO, the Railway Minister, the Cabinet Secretary as well as the Department of Personnel and Training, said that the key challenges that are faced by the national transporter that result in poor financial performance are; high cost of transportation, declining market share, absence of coordinated investment planning, network capacity constraints. These do not get addressed if all officers are merged into an Indian Railway Management Service they have said, according to an IE report.

According to the report, the Traffic Service officers are responsible for core operations of Indian Railways, which include running the trains, planning the transportation solutions as well as business development. As a result, the Traffic Service officers are in charge of earning every penny that the national transporter earns through passenger and freight segments. Due to early age entry of officers into the Engineering services, those who are in the civil services- Personnel, Traffic, and Accounts, would be deprived of a fair and equitable opportunity to man posts at the apex decision-making levels, the body said.

The IRTS has suggested the creation of two services – one by amalgamating all engineering services and the other by merging Traffic, Accounts, and Personnel civil services. The body has argued that while the "supply side" will be looked after by the technical wing by ensuring network infrastructure, technical support in signalling, tracks, rolling stock, etc; the specialized civil servants will take care of the "demand side" by understanding the users of the different modes of transport where public policy plays an important role.

The association has suggested in its petition that the posts of Divisional Railway Managers, Zonal General Managers as well as Railway Board Members should be filled through a revised selection process and not just through seniority among various services of Indian Railways.

For the posts of General Manager, the body has suggested a selection panel comprising offices outside Indian Railways such as Cabinet Secretary, DoPT Secretary and even an expert from outside, along with the CEO of Indian Railways, should be formed. The association has also stated that the eligible officer must be an Additional-Secretary rank as well as he/she should have worked as DRM. For the posts of DRM, the body suggested that the eligibility should be akin to those needed for Director in premier PSUs. And also, the officer should have worked in a division for a minimum of six years. Further, it suggested that the Board Members should be selected through a similar process, from the pool of General Managers.

According to the association, a sizeable number of traffic officers spend 24X7 in producing the railway transportation output. Thus, excluding these officers from the top posts by virtue of entry age and by suddenly changing the service conditions and with retrospective effect will affect the morale of these officers severely.