New Delhi: Angry railways officers have been assured that the Narendra Modi government’s decision to merge eight railway services into one will not damage their careers.
On Thursday, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav addressed over 4,000 worried railway officers across the country via a video conference to allay their concerns. Yadav is learnt to have assured them that their careers would not be affected adversely by the decision.
Officers who were present during the conference told ThePrint that they were also informed of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s keenness to talk to younger officers next week.
“Since the younger officers have been particularly distraught, we were told that the minister will speak to them on video conference on Monday or sometime next week,” a senior officer said on condition of anonymity.
ThePrint had Thursday reported how the Modi government’s decision to unify the eight services, including both the technical and non-technical services, has led to widespread resentment among railway officers.
While three services — Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service and Indian Railway Personnel Service — constitute the railway’s civil services, the other five constitute the technical or engineering services.
In a statement released Tuesday, the government said, “This will end the culture of working in ‘silos’ and mark the beginning of a new and unified railway with a coherent vision for the future.”
With the decision leading to a social media uproar from the three civil services, Yadav sought to reassure the officers.
“He listened to us patiently for over two hours and told us that all our grievances will be communicated to the government, and he will ensure that they are addressed,” the officer quoted above said.
“We were informed that a Group of Ministers will be constituted to decide on the logistics and after three months, everything will be decided.”
The Railway Board chairman’s two-hour address, however, didn’t give officers any clarity.
A second officer who was part of the conference said the chairman, although well-meaning, did not have the answers to “our questions”.
“When we asked him how will all the eight services be recruited after merger, what will the education qualification be, what happens to the technical expertise needed for engineering services, etc., he had no answer,” the officer said. “All he could say was that now that he has heard us, he will ensure our concerns are addressed.”
The first officer quoted above said if the chairman could hold this video conference after the announcement, why could he not do it before and prevent this chaos.
After the conference, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document was internally circulated among railway officers late in the evening.
Officers were informed that all officers in the unified Indian Railway Management Service will be recruited through the UPSC (civil service) exam.
This led to more confusion among railway officers. “For every one civil servant in railways, there are 2-3 engineers. Will you recruit all of them through one exam? How will it work?” asked the second officer.
The FAQs also clarified that the CEO of the newly constituted Railway Board will be an officer from the railway services. There was some speculation among railway officers that NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will be made the chairman of the new board.
“Those rumours have been there for a while, but for now, the minister has denied any such thing,” said the first officer. “Anyway there is so much outrage among officers right now, if they make an IAS the head of our board, there will be utter chaos.”