As kids most of us have been fascinated by the world of moving trains. And not surprisingly one of our childhood dreams was to be an engine driver. Just so that we could see lots of places! Do you still carry that dream? Want to be a part of one of the oldest institutions in India? Yes, we are talking about the Indian Railways. If you want to be a part of this moving experience this is your chance to know how to get into it. Here's giving you all the information all the Indian Railways. Come, join the joy ride!
The Indian railway system spanning a length of over 62.3 thousand kilometres is the largest in Asia and ranks second in the world. It made a modest beginning in April 1853, with the first train from Bombay to Thane.
The range of operations of the Indian Railways is quite diverse and wide. The Indian Railway network comprises of nine zones, directly controlled by the Railway Board, which is at the helm of all operations. Each zone is headed by a General Manager.
The nine zones are:
- Central Zone with headquarters in Mumbai
- Eastern Zone with headquarters in Calcutta
- Northern Zone with headquarters in New Delhi
- North Eastern Zone with headquarters in Gorakhpur
- North-East frontier Zone with headquarters in Guwahati
- Southern Zone with headquarters in Chennai
- South-Central Zone with headquarters in Secundrabad
- South-Eastern Zone with headquarters in Calcutta
- Western Zone with headquarters in Mumbai
Nature of work in the Indian Railway Services (Officer Cadre Class I & II)
The Indian Railway Traffic Service
This branch of the Indian Railways looks after transportation and commercial matters pertaining to transportation. The branch is further divided into two divisions:
a) The commercial division: This division deals with all commercial responsibilities like ticket checking, catering, administration and management of stations, reservation, announcements on the platforms, etc.
b) The operations division: This division deals with controlling movement of the trains. Keeping a check on incoming and outgoing trains, detachment or attachment of wagons, etc., are the responsibilities of this division. The job requires travelling to inspect, supervise and direct the work at stations and control offices.
A career with the IRTS begins with 3 years of probationary training. The training is carried out for 2 years at Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration in Mussourie, zonal training centres and incorporates on the job training. The final year of the training period is a regular appointment posting. On completion of this tenure and passing the departmental examinations the officers get a confirmed position. This is either as Assistant Commercial Superintendent (ACS) or Assistant Operations Superintendent (AOS) at the Divisional Headquarters. After 4 years of service, they are promoted to the position of Divisional Co mmercial Managers and Divisional Operations Managers.
The next promotion is again at the divisional level as Senior Divisional Commercial/Operations Managers. From here, they take charge at the Zonal level as Deputy Chief Managers (Commercial/Operations). The senior most position at the Zonal level is that of Chief Managers (Commercial/Operations). In the Railway board, there is an appointment of Member (Traffic) which is filled by a senior official from this branch.
Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS)
As the name suggests this branch of the Railways deals with the accounting and finance operations of the Indian Railways. Working in this branch would entail dealing with financial transactions and hence a thorough knowledge of accounting procedures and related practices would prove an asset for officers who opt for this branch of the Indian Railways.
Appointed officers of the IRAS begin their careers with two years of probationary service. This is a training phase, during which they receive training at Railway Staff College, Vadodara and National Institute of Financial Management. On completion of training and qualifying the required examinations, they are inducted at the Divisional Headquarters as Assistant Accounts Officers. The subsequent promotions are as Divisional Accounts Officers and then as Senior Divisional Accounts Officers. At the zonal level, they move up as Chief Accounts Officers/Fin ancial Advisors. The senior most position is of Member (Finance) in the Railway Board.
Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
As the name indicates, officers in this division handle all matters relating to recruitment, promotions, Training and even staff welfare, staff welfare activities, transfers, informing the finance department about the increments due to individuals, disciplinary actions and so on.
The officers of the personnel department also undergo a 3 year probationary period. Following confirmation, they go through the promotional ladder very much like the officers in other Railway cadres.
Railway Protection Service/ Railway Protection Force
This branch of the Indian Railway Services operate as other para-military forces. They are responsible for the maintenance of law and order on trains and on premises owned and used by the Indian Railways.
On recruitment as a RPF officer you will undergo training for 3 year at Baroda, Lucknow and Police training establishments. On successf ul completion of the training period you will then be appointed as Assistant Security Officers at the Divisional Level. The next promotion as Divisional Security Officer is due after 5 years of service and then as Senior Divisional Security Officer. At the zonal level, you are appointment as Deputy Inspector General and later as Inspector General. The senior most position in RPF is the appointment as Director General, who is a member of the Railway Board.
Railway Engineering Services
This is the technical side of the Indian Railways and is engaged in activities like installation, maintenance, construction and planning of railway tracks, bridges and buildings.
Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE) - Officers of this branch comprise the Civil Engineers of the Indian Railways. They plan the track routes, construct railway stations, bridges, tunnels and housing colonies. Officers of this branch also work on projects undertaken in India or abroad under the consultancy organisations of the Railways (Rail India Technical and Economic Services Ltd - RITES and IRCON).
On recruitment, the officers go through 3 years of probation, very much like the officers inducted into IRTS, IRAS, IRPS, RPF. The training period is divided into eight weeks of foundation course and six weeks of induction course at the Railway Staff College at Vadodra.
Technical training is imparted at the Indian Railway Institute of Civil Engineering (IRICEN) in Pune. The third year of probation is a virtual posting for on-the-job training. The recruited officer is given training in maintaining the railway segment under his charge. On confirmation, the officer is posted as Assistant Engineer in a Division. The next promotion is after two years to the post of Divisional Engineer and then to the post of Senior Divisional Engineer takes in another 5-6 years. Promotion to Zonal level comes next.
Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME) - These Mechanical engineers maintain Diesel Locomotives and rolling stock of the railways. They ensure that the locomotives, wagons and carriages are in proper order for day to day running. They look after the periodic overhauling of the engines, carry out maintenance and repair of engines, wagons and carriages. In the case of an accident they are required to be present at the site to advise and supervise the recovery and removal of the damaged locomotives, carriages and wagons.
Mechanical Engineers recruitments are of two types. Graduate engineers are recruited through the Combined Engineering Services Examination and school leavers through the Special Class Railway Apprentices examination, both exams being conducted by the UPSC.
The Graduate Mechanical Engineers on recruitment go through 3 years of probation. The training during the probationary period is given at the Railway Staff College at Vadodra and Indian Railway Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers (IRIMEE) at Jamalpur in Bihar. The Special Class Railway Apprentices get four years of training. The training period is divided into 6 month periods of hands on workshop training followed by 6 months of training at IRIMEE. Apprentices have to clear examinations every year for moving ahead with the training. On completion they are appointed as Assistant Mechanical Engineers in a divisi on. Future promotions are the same as in other branches.
Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE) - They look after the functioning of this very massive network and technical expertise and updating of technology for ensuring efficient functioning.
Engineers in this branch after recruitment are put on probation cum training at Railway Staff College at Vadodra and at the Railway Institute of Signal Telecommunication (IRISET) at Secunderabad. On successfully completing the probation they are trained at the Railway Staff College at Vadodra and at the Railway Institute of Signal and Telecommunication (IRISET) at Secunderabad. On successfully completing the probation they are posted as Assistant Signal and Telecommunication Engineers. Further promotions are very much the same as for other branches. The engineers form this branch are constantly updated on the latest technology through inhouse training as well as sent on courses for learning the latest technological advancem ents to institutes of technology.
Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE) - Railways has a Electrification Headquarters at Allahabad for ongoing planning and coordination of developmental activities for electrification. Electrical engineers are responsible for carrying on the work taken up as part of the electrification projects as well as the maintenance and repair of Electrical Locomotives and coaches. They are responsible for power distribution networks, power generation, electrical distribution systems and for monitoring continuity of supply.
The electrical engineers on recruitment are on probation during which they receive training at the Railway Staff College in Vadodara and Railway Institute of Electrical Engineering at (IRIEEN) at Nasik. On successful completion of training they are posted as Assistant Electrical Engineers in a Division in one of the departments mentioned above. Further promotions are as in other departments.
Indian Railway Stores Service - Plan expenditure of the Indian Railways for each five year plan. This branch is responsible for bulk expenditure for procurement of materials required for maintenance, day to day functioning, developmental projects, etc. They take charge of the discarded and scrapped materials which is either recycled or disposed.
Recruitment to this department is also followed by a probationary term. The training is given at the Railway Staff College at Vadodara followed by training in various Depots, in the Headquarters of Supply and Disposal, and workshops/locosheds where materials have to be supplied or recovered for disposal.
The career profile of a Stores Controller is different from the other branches. Stores Depots are not in the administrative domain of a Division while locoshed come within the control of the Divisional Manager. Stores officers on confirmation become Assistant Controller of stores and take c harge of a depot, workshop, or locoshed. The next promotion is as Divisional Controller of Stores. At the zonal level the complete power rests with the Controller of Store.
Direct recruitment to posts and services in Class I and Class II for non-technical services - the Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS), the Indian Railway Personnel Services (IRPS), the Indian Railway Accounts Services (IRAS), and the Railway Police Service is made through Union Public Service Commission. To be considered for employment in the Railways, a candidate needs to pass the Combined Civil Services Examination and an allied examination for the Railways. The eligibility for UPSC exams is a graduation in any subject.
For employees who are recruited though the Combined Civil Services Examination, no particular discipline is specified at the graduate level. However for the Railway Engineering Services an engineering degree or its equivalent is a must.
Training for recruits for the Railway Engineering Services is provided at five centralised training institutes. For the selection of mechanical engineers, a Special Class Railway Apprenticeship Examination is held. The chosen candidates are given a four-year probationary training. The minimum eligibility is HSC with PCM.
On the personal front there are certain qualities and traits essential for a government employee. The one that tops the list is a willingness to work in a predetermined hierarchy. Unlike the private sector, hierarchy is adhered to quite closely in the government sector.
As the railways are always on the move so are many of its employees. So be prepared to spend time away from home and family. The railways carry an innumerable number of passengers every day. As a railway employee you will be responsible for their safety.
Other qualities required are preparedness to do monotonous and routine jobs everyday, penchant for structured and rule based activities, organising skills and an ability to keep cool head during crisis. Officers in engineering services need the aptitude of an engineer.
The Indian Railways has openings as officers in various departments discussed in the career overview section.
Apart from officers in various departments RRBs also recruit teachers, physical instructors, nurses and para-medical personnel through written tests. The pay scales are based on the requirement of posts.
Money & Other Benefits
Remuneration for group 'A' officers ranges from Rs 9,000-13,500 per month at entry level. Group 'B' employees are paid between Rs 5,500-9,000 per month.
Despite so many divisions, cadres, etc., the prospects, promotions and remuneration are at par in all the divisions. Remuneration for railway officers is fixed by the government of India and follows the pattern of all other civil services. Other benefits attached to the railways are facilities like travel allowances, educational facilities, housing facilities, pension, health care, free railway passes and so on.
A job in the Indian Railways is considered quite cushy and prestigious. The Indian railways have made a remarkable progress in attaining self-sufficiency in equipment. At the beginning of the planning era, the railways were importing 23 per cent of their equipment. Imports of railway equipment have now been brought down considerably.
And for any operation of this magnitude to be performing well, continuous development is essential. In order to have an effective, economic and optimum usage of the rolling stock and other assets of the railways, many steps have been taken. Some of them are - computer based freight operation and control systems, technological improvements through World Bank assistance etc.