The government on Wednesday cleared the restructuring of the Railway Board to move to a corporate model, and the appointment of Vinod Kumar Yadav as the first chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the board.
Yadav is currently the chairman of the Railway Board. The Union Cabinet had in December 2019 cleared a proposal for restructuring of the board through a leaner structure on functional lines headed by the chairman and four members — covering infrastructure, operations and business development, rolling stock, and finance. In addition, the board will also include sectoral experts from industry, finance, economics, and management fields. Based on the decision, the chairman will be the cadre-controlling officer responsible for Human resources (HR) with assistance from a director-general (HR).
In addition to the CEO, the government has also appointed the four members — Pradeep Kumar for infrastructure, PC Sharma for traction and rolling stock, PS Mishra for operations and business development, and Manjula Rangarajan for finance. The appointments were cleared by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). Earlier, the railway services were organised into various departments like traffic, civil, mechanical, electrical, signal and telecom, stores, personnel, and accounts. These departments are vertically separated from top to bottom and are headed by secretary-level officers called ‘members’ of the Railway Board.
In the past 25 years, various committees formed for reforming the railways — the Prakash Tandon Committee (1994), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Sam Pitroda Committee (2012), and Bibek Debroy Committee (2015) — had all recommended these reforms.
The current restructuring will be a zero-cost exercise and money will be saved by surrendering posts in the board and stopping duplication of work. The Railway Board had also decided to unify the eight existing Group A services of the railways into a central service called the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS). It is expected that at lower-level technical staff will become multitaskers; that might promote skilling and improvement in services.
The government has lined up a massive infrastructure development plan of Rs 50 trillion to modernise the national transporter in the next 12 years – from improving safety to speed and services. This requires speedy decision-making by various departments.‘Departmentalism’ in Railways was marked by inefficiency in work, infighting over control of assets and resources, and delay in decision making, according to the government.