Indian Railways which started its journey in 1853 has been India’s lifeline. Today, it has route length network spread across 1.2 lakh km with 13,523 passenger trains and 9,146 freight trains plying 23 million travellers and 3 million tonnes of freight daily from over 7,000 stations across the country. India’s lifeline saw various firsts in the Year 2020 making it a bitter-sweet journey for it.
1. Railway passenger operations coming to a halt: Indian Railways passenger services came to complete halt for the first time when the lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March. The trains in India have never been halted ever since its journey started 160 years ago. For the first time, people experienced how life was without trains and if this wide network of trains didn’t exist how the country was in dismay. Even after the resumption of trains till now only over 1,000 trains are running for passengers besides suburban trains.
2. Management Restructuring: One of the biggest reforms for Indian Railways was initiated in 2020 with railway management restructuring shape. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet in September approved the restructuring of Railway Board and appointed railway board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav as the CEO of Indian Railways. The implementation of reforms ended the departmentalism of the Indian Railways. Railway Board will be no longer be organized on departmental lines and will be replaced with leaner structure organised on functional lines.
3. Privatisation of Passenger Trains: On July 1, the Indian Railways announced that 151 trains in 109 pairs of routes will be operated by private sectors. The private sector will invest Rs 30,000 crore. Only the driver and guard will be railway employees, while all other employees will be of the private company which is operating the train. The private companies are free to procure train and locomotive from the source of their choice or hire it from Indian Railways.
4. Indian Railways Management Services: The government of India has chosen to merge each of the eight existing administrations of Indian Railways at all levels i.e from Junior Scale to HAG+ into solidarity Indian Railways Management Services (IRMS). The select UPSC test for the new IRMS will be directed in 2020/21. So far, officials for the Indian Railways Accounts Service, Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway and the Indian Railway Personnel Service were selected through the Civil Services Exam, while those for the other building administrations were enlisted through the Indian Engineering Service (IES) test.
5. 700 deaths of Railway Employees on duty: Many frontline workers lost their lives due to coronavirus. While those in health and police services were hailed across media, there were several railway employees too who ensured the essential services are available to the public in these testing times. Indian Railways for the first time lost over 700 employees who fell prey to coronavirus while performing their duties whether it was running freight trains for essential services or taking back stranded migrant labourers to their home safely.
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