Indian Railways needs restructuring and modernisation

The Railway Ministry sets broad policy, the regulator implements the principles of competition determined by that policy and the present Railway Board becomes a corporate board for the Indian Railways trains.

As a committee, we decided to focus more on the process, especially human resources and finance. Out of 20-odd committees, other than ours, it was the 1994 Prakash Tandon Committee that explored HR in detail.

The key ingredients of reform template were the following:
(1) allow private entry, including in running of private trains;
(2) change the composition of the Railway Board;
(3) decentralise decision-making to zones/divisions and even further below;
(4) separate the core functions of running trains from non-core functions like schools and medical services;
(5) set up a regulator;
(6) unify various railway services;
(7) transit to commercial accounting and
(8), unite the Railway Budget with the Union Budget.

Reform (1) has been done and other than royal tourist trains, the Tejas Express is the first private passenger train, running on a pilot basis.
Reform (2) has been recently announced, with the Board functionally pruned.
Item (3) has been done and
(4) is being implemented at the zonal level.
Reform (7) has been completed at zonal level and (8) has been done.

A clear computation of social costs is a function of (7) and is being carried out throughout the Indian Railways system. This leaves the regulator and unification of services.

Recently, eight Group A services have been unified into the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).

Departmentalism is worse than it was in the 1950s. And much worse than it was in 1905, when the Railway Board was formed. However, the Railway Board went through a major change in 1951. It was time for another change in 2019 and HR reform feeds into that.

Thank you!

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