Performance of officers, not their seniority, will determine appointments to top posts.


New Delhi: Mere seniority would no longer guarantee top posts for Indian Railway officials. The Ministry of Railways has taken up restructuring of the Railway Board as a top priority under which appointment on top posts like members of railway board, general managers (GMs) and divisional railway managers (DRMs) will be made on “strong performance delivery” and leadership qualities and not on the basis of seniority.

Setting the agenda for the first 100 days, the Ministry of Railways has proposed restructuring of the railways at all levels, including the Railway Board. A senior railway ministry official said performance of officers in terms of planning and execution of projects, effective administration, achievements and proper utilisation of resources will be the criteria for appointments to top posts. “The Ministry of Railways will prepare a blueprint for restructuring in Indian Railways at all levels, including the Railway Board,” read the proposal approved by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The ministry also plans to rightsise the railway board, which, sources said, was overstaffed.

“The idea is to cut short the number of staff, particularly senior officers at the Indian Railway headquarters, and depute them on crucial posts in the field. Railways require efficient functioning on the ground level than in the headquarters,” a senior official pointed out. Former Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani had transferred nearly 100 officers out of the Railway Board to various field posts.

In another proposal, the ministry plans technological revamp of the railways. Within the 100 days, process will be initiated for digitisation of the railways, upgrading the passenger reservation system to new software and making the important railway officers paperless by switching completely to digital mode in the next two years.

The Ministry of Railways has proposed a 11-point agenda for the 100 days which also includes upgrading the signaling system for enhanced passenger safety and faster train operation. The official said the advanced signalling system will enhance safety by ensuring that technological aid to the loco pilot is provided to eliminate or considerably reduce accidents due to overshooting of signals and over-speeding.

He said that it will also help in increasing the line capacity on the railway network by 46-48% on absolute block system and will also help in improving the punctuality of trains by providing information to the loco pilots of the signal in advance, even in adverse conditions like fog or sharp curves and tunnels.

In a bid to reduce travel time, the Indian Railways, under its 100-day action plan, envisages increasing the speeds of trains on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes at an investment of over Rs 13,500 crore. Railways plans to
increase the train speed to 160 km/h on the busy routes of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah in the next four years.

The official said the proposal envisages that in the next 100 days, approval should be obtained for this project and the proposal is being sent to the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The estimated cost to upgrade the speed on the 1,525-km New Delhi-Howrah route will be Rs 6,684 crore and on the 1,483-km New Delhi-Mumbai route will be Rs 6,806 crore, and the entire project is proposed to be implemented within four years from the date of approval.

Redevelopment of railway stations, corporatization of railway’s production units, eliminating manned level crossings, rationalising rail fares by reducing passenger subsidy, wi-fi at railway stations are the other key proposals of the railway ministry.