Cabinet clears major Indian railways revamp, unification of services

Indian railways restructuring
The unified service will be created from the next recruitment cycle in consultation with DoPT and UPSC.

Indian Railways will unify eight Group A services under it into Indian Railway Management Service and reorganise railway board on functional lines in a transformational restructuring plan approved by the Union cabinet on Tuesday. The railway services are being reorganised to implement the implementation of the ambitious plan to modernise the network to offer the highest standards of safety, speed and services at an investment of Rs 50 lakh crore over the next 12 years.

The cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi also cleared the renaming of Indian Railway Medical Service into Indian Railway Health Service. The reform measures approved today are in continuation of measure announced earlier by the Modi government that include the merger of rail budget with Union Budget, delegation of powers to empower GMs and field officers and allowing private operators to run trains.

READ: It’s a Catch-22 for finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman

The railway board will be reorganised on functional lines under a chairman who will be the chief executive and four members responsible for infrastructure, operations & business development, rolling stock and finance. The chairman will also be responsible for human resources. The board will also have some independent members who will be successful professionals from industry, finance, economics and management fields.

Indian Railways is run by the central government unlike in other countries where railway networks are corporatized. The organisation is split into departments such as traffic, signal & telecom, civil, mechanical, electrical, stores, personnel, and Accounts. These departments are headed by a railway board member, a secretary level officer. The proposed unification of services will remove the silos, speed up decision making and create a clear vision for the organisation. The unification of railway services was recommended by various committees constituted for reforming the Railways.

READ: Towards a $5 trillion economy: An agenda for India’s transformation

This unification plan was supported by railway officers at a two-day conference Parivartan Sangoshthi held in New Delhi earlier this month. The railway board held an extraordinary meeting during the conference to act on the suggestions of the officers.

The unified service will be created from the next recruitment cycle in consultation with DoPT and UPSC. The modalities will be worked out by the railway ministry as per the alternate mechanism to be decided by the cabinet. The unification process is expected to be completed in a year.