: The response to an RTI query has revealed that more than 3.11 lakh posts out of 14,75,623 Group C posts and 3,018 out of the sanctioned 18,881 gazetted cadre positions are lying vacant in various departments of the Indian Railways. A majority of the 39 railway zones and production units lack the required human resource, according to the data provided in response to the query filed by this TOI correspondent.
The 3,11,438 vacant Group C posts include jobs for Level 1 category staff, including trackspersons, pointsmen, electrical works, signal and telecom assistants. “A majority of the vacant Group C posts include that of engineers, technicians, clerks, guards/train manager, station masters, ticket collectors etc. This directly affects the railway operations on a daily basis,” said a leader of North Central Railway Employees Sangh (NCRES), requesting anonymity.
“The matter related to vacant posts remains a common issue in every permanent negotiator machinery (PNM) meeting with authorities at divisional, zonal, and at the level of railway headquarters. Administrative officers are aware of the problems caused by the lack of the required workforce. But the government is not interested in hiring permanent staff. They are keen towards privatisation of the railways,” he added.
As per the data, five out of nine posts at the apex level of the ministry of railways were lying vacant till September 15, 2022. Besides, 23 out of 59 higher administrative group + posts, 44 out of 377 posts of higher administrative group, 77 out of 1,700 senior administrative-level posts were vacant. Department-wise vacancies of gazetted officers included 289 posts of Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), 100 Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS), 260 Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE), 154 Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE), 324 Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), 43 Indian Railway Store Service (IRSS), 215 Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), 476 Indian Railway Health Service (IRHS), 145 Indian Railway Protection Force Service (IRPFS), 321 Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), 113 general category, and 578 miscellaneous. The maximum vacancy of 1,274 out of 2,785 sanctioned posts was in the junior scale, followed by 926 vacancies out of 5,698 posts of Group B.
A senior Indian Railway Traffic Service officer told
, “The high number of vacant posts especially of group C has been a subject of major concern affecting overall operations of the Indian Railways. The government is expanding the railway network, and high-speed rail operations have become a necessity. In order to upgrade operational safety and public convenience, the vacant posts must be filled in a time-bound manner.”
Echoing similar sentiments, a 35-year-old manager said, “I have been working double shifts for up to 16 hours at a stretch because we don’t have staff to relieve us. I remain sleep-deprived and have not been able to take leave to spend time with family, because of staff crunch.”
In November last year, the National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU) of the Central Railways had staged a peaceful protest at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus against 28,705 vacant posts in the railways.
Rail minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, in his reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, had admitted to this glut of vacancies for all posts and said instructions had been issued to the zonal railway divisions for filling up the posts, especially in the safety and technical categories.