Apart from the financial hardship that the Indian Railways
is already reeling under, there’s a crisis of a different kind within the system which has been brought to the fore by its own employees — it is being alleged that all the important posts within the Railways have been assigned to the Indian Railway Services of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME) officials. Irrespective of their qualification or their eligibility, Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS) and the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE) officials have claimed that they are being kept out of all the crucial positions within the system, while IRSME officers are walking away with the most-sought-after roles.
IRTS writes to railway ministry
Riled by the situation, IRTS officers made a representation to the Railway ministry in writing in which they claimed that jobs pertaining to housekeeping, environment and onboard services have been given to IRSME officers while they have been sidestepped. It is interesting to note that Ashwani Lohani, Chairman of the Railway Board, belongs to the IRSME.
In the letter, IRTS officers of West Central Railway have claimed that the mechanical department does not have any monitoring agency either at the station or in train to look after general duties. The IRSEE officers lashed out at the mechanical department for taking over the top posts in the electrical multiple unit train set department in the research wing of the railways.
The news comes a month after the post of director in the Rolling Stock of the Railway Board went to an IRSME officer.
How are IRSME officials recruited
The railway has the maximum number of Group A services, with 10 cadres. The IRSME has traditionally been the most important division of the Railways because it used to be responsible for steam and diesel locomotion. The IRSME officials are recruited through the special class railway apprentice exam, which candidates can take after finishing Class 12. This gives them an edge over their peers with respect to age. In 2015, the recruitment of IRSME was stopped through this exam and replaced with the Engineering Services Exam, conducted by the UPSC.
A rail ministry official said, “The ministry had earlier proposed to merge various services of the Railways so that the national transporter doesn’t work in silos. The proposal, however, hasn’t been taken up by the board yet.”