The Indian railway system spanning a length of over 62.3 thousand kilometers 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. A General Manager heads each zone.
Nature of Work:
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 Commercial 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.
Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS)
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.
Railway Protection Service/ Railway Protection Force (RPF)
These branches 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.
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 organizations of the Railways (Rail India Technical and Economic Services Ltd – RITES and IRCON).
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. UPSC.
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.
Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE)
Railways have an 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, and electrical distribution systems and for monitoring continuity of supply.
Indian Railway Stores Service
This branch is responsible for bulk expenditure for procurement of materials required for maintenance, day-to-day functioning, developmental projects, etc.
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/loco sheds where materials have to be supplied or recovered for disposal.
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.
Apart from officers in various departments RRBs also recruit Train Loco Pilots, ASMs, Guards, Teachers, Physical instructors, Doctors in various departments, nurses and paramedical personnel through countrywide written tests.