Over 6,000 posts related to safety upkeep and maintenance lying vacant
Focus is on safety for the Indian Railways after Ashwini Lohani took charge of the Railway Board as its new chairman, but if the South Central Railway (SCR), consistently outperforming other zones in various parameters, says scores of posts dealing with safety and civil engineering sections have to be filled pending approvals, it is time to sit up and take note.
Over 6,000 technical and other on-ground personnel dealing with key safety upkeep and maintenance have to be recruited immediately in SCR to keep the rail system well oiled.
Laborious process of recruitment through the Railway Recruitment Boards, procurement delays and lack of proper coordination between various departments — again due to inadequate personnel, is leaving gaping holes in the regulatory systems, say senior railway officials.
The Railway Board has been informed several times to speedily complete the process of recruitment and ease procurement of vital systems but without much headway, they indicate, wishing to remain anonymous.
Most of these jobs pertain to track patrol and maintenance besides manning the level crossings and the like.
Vacancies exist for 3,795 posts of gangmates, keymen, trackmen, trolleymen, watchmen and others under the ‘D’ category of employees with a current strength of about 17,000.
This is not all; the next higher level of technical staff looking into the rails like section engineers, junior engineers, artisans and others for manning track machines, maintenance, bridges, etc., also has 782 vacancies.
Another 1,709 vacant posts of track patrolmen like helpers and others have to be filled.
Forty-nine posts in the senior engineer level with M.Tech qualification have to be filled in the civil engineering wing.
Proposals for creating 1,040 posts of gatemen at the level crossings too have been lying with the Railway Board, they claim.
SCR has completed rail works in many sections over the years covering Karimnagar, Jagityal, Banganapalle, Jaklair, Mancherial, Peddampet, Ramagundam, Raghavapuram and so on along with doubling of lines at Parbhani and Mantralayam, but the demand for taking in upto 1,500 personnel in various sections has not been done.
These personnel are key to ensuring that track, ballast, joints, et al are in place for safe running of trains and to alert higher authorities on any anomaly as accidents occur mostly due to weld or rail fractures not being detected, not detecting breaches /washouts, poor maintenance of track and accidents at the work site.
Coordination is key
Despite a delicate balance maintained between providing time blocks — four hours or two and half hours each, required for maintenance while ensuring trains schedules are on time, better coordination between the maintenance and operating wings would bring in more efficiency.
Better communication tools and the intake of more personnel into this exercise would considerably help matters, they aver.