Closure, merger and privatization – the way forward for Indian railways

Panel recommends private participation, liquidation of CORE, COFMOW and merger of RVNL with IRCON

Indian Railways, the country’s largest employer and carrier, is heading towards a major restructuring plan that could result in the closure of large establishments, the merging of decades-old organizations and private participation in the management of its operations. schools and hospitals.

The recommendations of the Chief Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal for the rationalization of government agencies and the proposal of the Ministry of Railways call for the liquidation of the Central Organization for the Electrification of Railways (CORE), the Central Organization for the modernization of the workshops (COFMOW), of the Rail Systems Information Center (CRIS) and Indian Railways Organization for Alternative Fuel (already closed on September 7, 2021).

While senior railway officials were of the view that the recommendations would be taken into account for further discussion, the shutdown of IROAF sent a signal that the proposal could be implemented in part or in full. time required. Last week, Cabinet Secretariat Rashtrapati Bhavan wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Board, calling for monthly reports to indicate steps taken on the streamlining plan, official sources said. The Hindu Friday.

In what could be a major gathering of organizations working on the IT platform, the panel recommended the liquidation of CRIS, a stand-alone company that develops software capabilities in the railways that include passenger ticketing, billing freight, passenger train operations, crew train management and fixed / rolling asset management, and handing over all its work to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

According to the plan, RailTel, one of the country’s largest telecommunications infrastructure providers that focuses on modernizing operations and security systems through the fiber-optic networks that exist along the tracks, would be merged with IRCTC. The Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) which exports rolling stock has been offered to take over Braithwaite & Co Ltd., (BCL) which fell ill in 1992, the sources said.

Other recommendations included the merger of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), which implements projects related to the creation and increase of railway infrastructure, with the Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON), an organization specializing in the construction of infrastructure. The panel stated that RVNL and IRCON had similar functions and therefore could be merged.

Merger of schools

The senior economic adviser recommended the merger of the railway schools with Kendriya Vidyalayas or handing them over to the respective state governments, as “the operation of the railway schools takes a large part of the time of the management of the railways. railway whose main competence is the management and maintenance of the railway service ”.

Justifying this decision, the proposal noted that of the 7.99 lakh of children of railway workers aged 4 to 18, less than 2% were enrolled in railway schools. In 2019, out of a total of 33,212 students enrolled in 94 schools, only 15,399 were railway wards.

Plants under CPSE

Another major reform recommended was to create central public sector enterprises to consolidate eight production units. This would mean that the assets, infrastructure and employees of three coach factories – Integral Coach Factory, Chennai; Railway coach factory, Kapurthala; Modern coach factory, Rae-Bareli; three locomotive manufacturing units – Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan; Diesel locomotive works, Varanasi; The modernization works of the diesel locomotives, Patiala and two railway wheel units at Yelahanka (Bengaluru) and Bela (Bihar), would be transferred to the proposed CPSE.

Merger of the central training institutes with the National Institute of Railways and Transport after the latter’s transformation into a central university and an institute of national importance, calling on private participation for investments aimed at improving the Open-to-all health facilities in the 125 railway hospitals and 586 health units / polyclinics have also been proposed, the sources added.