More than 2.74 lakh posts vacant in Railways: RTI

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More than 2.74 lakh posts in the Railways are lying vacant as of this month, with over 1.7 lakh of them in the safety category alone, the national transporter has said in response to an RTI query.

In its reply to the questions filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur, a Madhya Pradesh-based Right to Information (RTI) Act activist, the Railways said 2,74,580 posts are vacant in Group C category, including Level 1 or entry-level staff.

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This includes 1,77,924 vacancies in the safety category, it said.

“The total number of non-gazetted posts vacant i.e. Group-C (including Level-1) in Indian Railways, as available in this office, as on 01.06.2023 (provisional) is: 2,74,580,” the ministry said.

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In the safety category, it said there are more than 9.82 lakh posts of which over 8.04 lakh are filled.

“Total number of sanctioned, on roll and vacant posts in safety category of Group-C (including Level-1) in Indian Railways, as available in this office, as on 01.06.2023
(provisional) are: 9,82,037, 8,04,113 & 1,77,924 respectively,” the response said.

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Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma said the issue is being addressed through direct recruitment, expeditious promotions and moving non-core staff to core jobs after training.

In December 2022, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw informed Parliament that 3.12 lakh non-gazetted posts were vacant in the Railways.

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Safety category are personnel directly involved with train operations. They include key profiles like loco pilots, trackspersons, pointsmen, electrical works, signal and telecom assistants, engineers, technicians, clerks, guards/train manager, station masters and ticket collectors.

The shortage of staff in key posts has been flagged by railway unions regularly. In fact, rail unions have urged the ministry for more posts in track maintenance, fitness, senior and junior section engineers, gangmen, and technicians.

Explaining how this has affected the onground work, officials said is tremendous pressure on the workforce and the one on-ground staff has to cover eight to 10 km daily to inspect tracks.

“This is a sensitive job that requires more attention and it’s difficult for them to cover so much distance,” an official said.

Officials said the Railways, which has set a target of filling up 1.52 lakh vacancies by October 2023, has already provided letters of appointment to 1.38 lakh candidates. Out of these, 90,000 have joined. They said 90 per cent of these posts are of safety category.

After the horrific Balasore tragedy on June 2 in which more than 280 people died, the Railways directed its zones to launch a “special drive” to fill promotional vacancies especially in the safety category, amid mounting criticism from the Opposition and intense demand by the railway unions.

Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma said the national transporter is filling up posts by direct recruitment and also expeditious promotions.

“Apart from this, posts in non-core activities are being identified and they are being converted to core-activity. Existing manpower who are presently doing non-core jobs are being moved to core-jobs after being trained,” he said.

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