In December 2019, the Indian government decided to merge the eight rail services into a single Indian Railways Management Services (IRMS) to carry out structural reform in the railway sector. The minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal announced that the existing eight services of Indian Railways – public service, engineering, finance, trade, transport, communications, information technology, public services, rail management, and finance – would be merged into a single cadre called the Indian Railway Management Service. Goyal justified the move with vague references to officers working in “silos.” He also said that this move would end “departmentalism” in Indian Railways. This move is being seen as one of the many steps that the government has decided to take for the reform of Indian Railways.
Eight Services of Indian Railways
Let’s see what these eight railway services that are merged by the Indian government that will form another entity called Indian Railway Management Service.
- Indian Railways Traffic Service
The Indian Railway Traffic Service is a category A civil service, which works under the Ministry of Railways’ administrative power. The IRTS is India’s fifth most prestigious civil service, and its cadre population is about 900. The two main functions performed by the IRTS is to promote cooperation between different technical departments and manage the realization of revenues for the various services provided by Indian Railways. While the IRTS operations division is responsible for the first function, the second is responsible for the commercial one.
- Indian Railways Accounts Service
The Indian Railways Accounting Service is also a civil service of Group A and has a system strength of some 800 officers. It was established in the 1920s after the British Indian government chose to distinguish railway finances from the Indian government’s general funds. The principal duties of this cadre include managing the accounts of Indian Railways and providing executive financial advice. As the IRAS scrutinizes every Indian Railways spending and investment proposal, it is considered to be an extremely coveted service.
- Indian Railways Personnel Service
Indian Railways Personnel Service comes under group A of civil services and has a total strength of 478. It handles the human resources and welfare of Indian Railways’ employees. Since the Indian Railways has more than 1.5 million employees, the IRPS plays a crucial role in managing inter-service relationships and employee employment conditions.
- Indian Railway Service of Engineers
The officers from this cadre are responsible for handling the civil engineering organization of the Indian Railways. They are in charge of maintenance of all of the railway’s current fixed properties, such as platforms, houses, bridges, highways, etc., and create new ones. The officers employed at the IRES, like all other professional railway systems, need a degree in engineering.
- Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers
IRSSE is a specialist company that controls the Railways’ signalling and telecommunications networks. IRSSE officers perform one of the most essential roles in maintaining secure and efficient operation of trains — interlocking, which applies, among other things, to controlling the signalling systems that avoid conflicting train movement.
- Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers
As the name suggests, officers from this service are responsible for handling the mechanical engineering organization of the Indian Railways. Several of their primary duties include managing manufacturing and repair equipment, the supply of motive power, crew control, restoring traffic in the event of mishaps, etc. Apart from that, IRSME officers also handle many production units such as Diesel Locomotive Plants, Rail Coach Facility, Wheel and Axle Plant etc.
- Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers
The electrical engineering organization of the Indian Railways is operated by the officers of IRSEE.
The electrical department was founded in 1947 and was earlier a part of the mechanical department. However, with more time demanding training, a new electrical department was established.
- Indian Railways Stores Services
IRSS officers are responsible for the purchase of various railway goods and facilities, contracts and informed warehousing, selling of old coaches and wagons, etc. The need for a separate buying and procurement facility was felt because over the years, the Indian Railways grew steadily.
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New Railway Service Exam to be Conducted by UPSC
After the merger of 8 services of Indian Railways, UPSC has been given the task of conducting an exclusive railway service examination on behalf of the Ministry of Railways. The first combined examination for Indian Railways Management Services will be conducted in 2021. In a press conference, the Ministry of Railways spokesperson said that “Creation of the new service will be done in consultation with DoPT and UPSC to facilitate recruitment in the next recruitment year. It will allow railways to hire engineers / non-engineers when required and offer equal opportunities in career advancement for both categories.”
The Chairman of the Railway Board, V.K. Yadav said that “Just like aspirants to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), candidates aspiring to enter the railways will have to appear for their prelims after which they will indicate their preference for IRMS. Candidates will get to choose from five specialities of which four of them being engineering specialties for technical operations consisting of civil, mechanical, telecom and electrical operations”. He also said that an indent would be provided on the website specifying the recruitment for the five specialties including four for the engineers and one for non-engineers in which anyone can come from the humanities side who will be utilized for handling the accounts, traffic and personnel service. The promotion for all the previous service officers will be done at the same time.
If you are wondering about the railway recruitment examination 2020, then you should know that it follows the same pattern as earlier. There will be two exams held by UPSC; one will be Civil Services Exam (CSE) for the Indian Railway Accounts Service, Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway and the Indian Railway Personnel Service and the other exam will be Indian Engineering Service (IES) for all those technical services of Indian Railways.
How Will the New Rules of IRMS Affect Indian Railways?
The Railway Board has been pruned with decentralization, and if vertical mobility is perceived as a role in Rail Bhawan, the potential is limited irrespective of whether or not IRMS is elected. Since posts were traditionally reserved for different services, there was unequal vertical mobility among those eight services. Take Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) promotion, for example. IRTS, IRAS and IRPS advanced the most (promoted batch in 1987) while IRSME, IRSEE and IRSS lagged fairly late (promoted batch in 1985).So, now that there will be only fourfour primary board members, the handling and communication between cadres will be a lot smoother. There is a big challenge though regarding this decision as some cadres are opposing this move of the Indian government.
Key Points of New Railway Reforms:
- Each of Indian Railways’ 8 groups A services will now be taken as one entity, called Railway Management. The company will be renamed as INDIAN RAILWAY SERVICE MANAGEMENT (IRMS).
- An applicant chosen in this service must be able to manage all eight forms of services, and the earlier phase of recruitment has not yet been announced.
- Now engineering servants would also be able to occupy positions at the Director level, which were traditionally mainly filled by civil servants. Now engineering servants (Recruited by ESE) & civil servants (Recruited by CSE) would have the same department and the same powers.
- Recruitment was previously done by UPSC CSE and UPSC ESE.
- New recruitment will take place via UPSC.
- There is less than 1% chance that UPSC will relate these services to ESE, as is the case with ESE for the recruitment of engineers. However, this restructuring will also involve candidates with any degree other than engineering.
- There is also a low probability that UPSC will connect these services to CSE. The reason for this decision is that all eight resources are the same as the work is centralized and it’s taken as that. And you need civil, electrical, mechanical engineers in certain facilities. Recruiting by CSE does not guarantee diversity of recruited applicants.
Effects of IRMS on ESE
If you are an ESE (Engineering Service Examination) aspirant, then you must be wondering about the effects of IRMS on ESE. So let’s look at the effects:
- There will be no effect on all the ESE 2020 candidates.
- Differences will be seen from ESE 2021.
- Competition in the ESE from 2021 (except civil) will certainly decrease, as most of the engineering graduates in the ESE work in the services of the railway group A.
- The number of posts for Mechanical, ECE, Electrical will be reduced.
- No major changes for civil engineer aspirants
- You can expect a decrease in the cutoff for Mechanical, Electrical, and ECE.
Will IRMS be Successful?
The decision to merge eight services of the Indian Railways into a single service known as IRMS has not been accepted with high confidence among the cadres. More than 40,000 postcards have been sent out by officers and staff across the country calling on the government to reverse the move. A memorandum was presented by several senior bureaucrats, including railway officers from all sectors of the public service, who spoke out against the moves.
The new system of Indian Railways called Indian Railways Management Services will definitely be a big step towards railway reforms. What’s your view on this? Is it going to be beneficial or not?