Downsizing of the Railway Board, delegation of powers by getting more field officers on the ground and merging of departments are some of the measures Railways Minister Piyush Goyal will undertake as he sets off on the arduous task of restructuring the Railways bureaucracy.
The ‘overstaffed’ Railways ministry may see some downsizing as the government looks to delegate several officers posted at the Rail Bhavan in the national capital to its different zones in its bid to increase rail safety through stronger field operations.
As part of the restructuring plan, as many as 125 ministry officials, including some heads of departments, will be shifted out from the ministry to different divisions for field duties. An estimated 500 officials are currently posted in the Railway Board headquarters, with several officials posted for many years.
Around 250 officers of the rank of director and above stationed at the ministry will no longer be required to be at the Rail Bhavan after delegation of powers.
"We have decided to cut the existing size of officials in railway board. The idea is to put them to field work to ensure better services and enhanced railway safety. The strength in railway ministry will be reduced and their role will be confined to monitoring and major policymaking," Railways minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday.
A total of 90 officials from different zones and departments have been accommodated in the Railway ministry over the years, he added.
Among the departments that function from the Rail Bhavan include traffic, rolling stock, electrical and signaling and communication. However, the presence of these officials in field could yield better results, an official said. Similarly, departments like health, railway protection force (RPF) could also be restructured.
Strengthening field operations
There are very specific measures that the Railway minister has outlined as part of the restructuring exercise to increase efficiency and ensure better safety. General managers, divisional railway managers (DRMs) and field officials have been empowered through delegation of powers -financial and administrative - to fast-track overall working.
Now, the post of additional DRMs in all 68 divisions will be increased from one to two and from two to three at some places to improve efficiency, Goyal said.
In two divisions in Mumbai, in Western and Central Railways, ADRM posts will increase to four from two. One ADRM in each of these divisions will exclusively deal with suburban services, he added.
The move assumes significance in view of the recommendations by a high-power committee formed by ministry on passenger safety. The committee formed after the stampede at Eliphinston Road station in Mumbai has suggested strengthening field operations.
Slimmer Railway Board
The government has already begun the process of identifying posts that can be reduced in the Railway Board and the powers that can be delegated to the field level.
Newly-appointed Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani told a newspaper that the Railways ministry was studying the current structure of the board and a decision would be taken soon.
"This will be a restructuring of the railway board where officials will be given crucial field duties. There will be no downsizing of the existing manpower of the railways," Lohani was quoted as saying.
Merger of departments
Besides trimming the Railway Board, another exercise that the ministry is looking at to improve the working of the Railways is the merger of some departments.
As per one media report, officials have hinted that the Budget Directorate of the Railway Board could be dismantled as the ministry is no longer tasked with preparing the Rail Budget after the Narendra Modi government merged it with the General Budget this year.
The Budget Directorate is believed to be one of the bulkiest departments headed by an executive which has been rendered useless after the budget merger.