Less staff on trains, fewer dustbins to be replaced & more: Indian Railways enforcing cost-cutting measures

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July 6, 2020 4:31 PM

A detailed letter has been sent by the Railway Board to various departments, urging them to review orders, contracts, requirements of manpower as well as bring down fuel and energy consumptions to curtail expenditure.

Instead of replacing dustbins in 30,000 LHB coaches, the Modern Coach Factory will take up only around 5,000 coaches at the cost of about 1.78 lakh.

With Indian Railways’ revenue down by around 58 per cent due to the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, the national transporter is enforcing a slew of cost-cutting measures, according to an IE report. A detailed letter has been sent by the Railway Board to various departments, urging them to review orders, contracts, requirements of manpower as well as bring down fuel and energy consumptions to curtail expenditure, the report said. Below are some steps Indian Railways is taking to cut costs:

1. Following the Railway Board’s cost-cutting guidelines, the most recent measure comes with the cancellation of replacement of dustbins in as many as 30,000 Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches to save up an amount of around Rs 60 crore. According to the report, instead of replacing dustbins in 30,000 LHB coaches, the Modern Coach Factory will take up only around 5,000 coaches at the cost of about 1.78 lakh.

2. A senior railway officer was quoted in the report saying that every train has about 15 staff members from different departments to look after linen, cleaning as well as AC maintenance. The national transporter is working out to have around 11 employees instead of 15 by training them in multiple areas and cutting down the staff strength by at least 25 per cent, he said.

3. In the wake of the lockdown, which was implemented to prevent COVID-19, wherein only a fraction of its services are running, Indian Railways which spends around Rs 1,200 crore on cleaning contracts, is now reviewing its contracts. The letter from the Railway Board advised the departments that the cleaning shifts are to be reduced from three to two or one, considering the footfalls.

4. In another recent letter to all zonal railways, the Railway Board has put a freeze on the creation of new posts. All posts that were created in the last two years and that still remain unoccupied have to be surrendered, the letter had stated. To review staff that can be trained to do multiple tasks for their efficient utilization, a special multitasking committee has been constituted at the Railway Board’s level. According to a Railway Board official, an RPF personnel’s job overlaps with that of the ticketing staff of the commercial department. Thus, Indian Railways is reviewing this to ascertain if one can do the job of the other, the official further said. As 80 per cent of ticket bookings now happen online, the employees deployed at Public Reservation Systems will now be redistributed in other departments.

5. According to another official, a diesel locomotive will now only be operated with prior approval from the General Manager, in order to save up on fuel and energy consumption. He further said that no spare parts for diesel locomotives will be procured and the ones that are beyond 30 years, will be scrapped.

The national transporter is working towards increasing its freight load with various policy interventions. This includes a timetabled service of freight trains much on the lines of passenger train services to bring freight load that the railways has lost to the road. Also, the national transporter is working towards increasing the speed of its goods wagons to 75 km per hour. Indian Railways has also recently allowed loading from multiple points for goods.

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