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Interview with Sh Ramesh Chandra Ex CRB/ML/Railway Board/Indian Railways

By on July 30, 2013
RailElectrica (RE):
Sir welcomes to RE. RE is thankful to you for joining this interview to share your views. Sir, you are known for your straight forwardness, farsightedness, and impartiality in decision-making. Please tell us something about your career in Railways.


Ramesh Chandra (RC):
I passed out from Aligarh Muslim University in the year 1967 and  joined IR on 8.1.1970 as AEE (Prob) and had my first posting as AEE (TRS) KYN on 8.1.72. Thereafter, DEE(TRS) Kurla, Dy/Jt Director(Loco)RDSO, DyCEE(Design)RE/MTJ, Dy(OHE) and CEE/P RE BPL, ADRM/JBP, CPM/RE/BPL, DRM/MGS, EDSE/Loco/RDSO, SDGM/SCR, OSD/BSP, CEE/SER, AGM/ER, GM/SR, ML, CRB.


Indian Railways offers many streams of working. How is this distributed in your career?


That is about 12 years in  loco, 12 yrs. In RE and 11 yrs general management.


Which post you enjoyed the most?


Frankly speaking I enjoyed working on each of the post. Indian Railway has given me opportunity to innovate, taking decision within my competency and delivering. This has given me job satisfaction on each of the post.


Sir, in your opinion which five decisions have helped in improving its performance?



In my opinion:

  1. The foremost is continuous technological up-gradation such as steam to diesel to electric locos, 4-W to 8-W wagons, long welded rails with concrete sleepers, semaphore to CLS panel and RRI etc.
  2. Transportation through Block rakes.
  3. Computerized Reservation System.
  4. Rejecting Rakesh Mohan Committee recommendations, instead making commercial use of railway land possible through Parliament.
  5. Creation of Dedicated Freight Corridors though it has not yet started giving results, but I consider it a most important decision taken by Indian Railways.

In fact there are many more, but you have given a restriction of only five

What were important decision taken by Electrical Department which has helped Indian Railways?


Adoption of 25kv electrification, Adoption of 110V DC  train lighting system with alternator replacing 24V DC system, Expansion of the electrified rail network, Producing locos best suited for traffic needs viz. Modified WAG7, WAG9, WAP7 and making CLW to produce 200 or more locos every year, Conversion of Mumbai area to 25kv traction


What are the most important  things about Railways that have inspired you the most?


  1. Brotherhood and commitment of railwaymen
  2. Unique grievance Redressal system, the PNM in 4-tiers
  3. Continuous Technological Upgradation
  4. Dynamic managerial approach
Sir, very correctly expressed that commitment of Railwaymen is no different than that of an army official which is witnessed during  war days but Railwaymen commitment is every day. But, Sir don’t you think that continuous technical up-gradation is very slow?


Yes, it is so because an incorrect decision has far reaching consequences; therefore every  precaution has to be taken at the time of selection of technology, trial, implementation over such a large system and thereafter its monitoring. It will take time. One has to be patient.

Railway Engineer spends almost 70% of his tenure doing maintenance. Would you like to give some advise to present and future of young engineers?


Yes, sure.


Change in mindset from Technician to Engineer/Manager:


My generation of Engineers had been groomed to become excellent technicians-electricians, welders, winders; generally a ‘Nut-Bolt man’. I hold the view that all equipment assets have ‘most economic Code life’ beyond which cost goes up steeply and reliability goes down drastically. With this in view, I, from Railway Board, I  had issued Codal life of assets/equipment/components; with Finance vetting. We must plan replacements accordingly.


Change the way we do preventive maintenance:


In the name of preventive maintenance, we follow certain schedules. We patch repair the components and refit. For OHE, some 20 men will wait for power block whole day and in the end give some attention, may be at the wrong place. For locos, EMUs and other General and TL assets, have adequate number of Unit-Exchange-Spares; replace old with these; send the released ones to Original-Equipment-Manufacturer for required attention. Replace those which need to be as in (1) above. Follow RDSO TCs 20,21,22 for locos. This approach has proved to bring down the cost of maintenance, enhance reliability many fold and improve availability. For OHE follow the principle of ‘ Directed-Maintenance’ after recording data through OLIVER-G. These measures will substantially reduce the requirement of manpower, whose cost has been rising exponentially.


Please share something more


Firstly Think Big and past examples are the decision taken for  setting up powerhouses in joint venture with NTPC at Nabinagar, Thakurli and Adra; Windpower at ICF. I understand an effort is on for joint venture with Nuclear Power Corporation also. These efforts will change the cost and availability scenario of Energy for traction and non traction purposes. Secondly Change in perception from ‘Inward looking’ to ‘Outward looking’ ( both for Passengers and Railwaymen) examples are Improved lighting standards at platforms and booking offices, AC waiting rooms for AC class passengers, mobile charging points in the coaches, location display in coaches, solar lights at non-interlocked manned level-crossings and at wayside stations, air-conditioning of Driver’s cab.


I want to specially mention the indifferent attitude of our engineers towards ‘Non-AC’ cases on AC-coaches. Let us not be so inhuman and insensitive towards our esteemed passengers. Now, zonal railways are flooded with spares, have OEM maint support along with their own staff, then why it is becoming such a menace?


Keep Focus on Operational needs: Pursue that is needed without waiting for somebody else to take the initiative. Examples are; Curtailment of journey time of M/E trains for the benefit of passengers and the creation of additional paths for goods trains, making 24 coaches a normal consist for improved earnings, Provision of 110 IBSs ( signalling), Electrification of J&K line and NE , second route of Chennai-Kanyakumari ( via MDU), Production of 200+ locos at CLW. These had been directly ordered by MR.


Two more areas which come to my mind are ” Electric-Train-Sets”, which will reduce capital investment and running costs, reduced journey time , offering World-class experience for passengers and creation of paths for freight movement; another is Block-proving through axle-counter i.e.”BPAC”(signalling), which will increase Line-Capacity substantially.


Sir, thank you very much for sparing your time and sharing your views so frankly.


You are welcome and I wish all the success in your effort of launching RailElectrica. In case you get any comment on this interview, I will be glad to answer.

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  1. Arun Saksena says:

    A slight correction on BPAC – BPAC is not the right device for enhancing Line Capacity.
    Automatic Block Signalling using Double Rail Audio Frequency Track Circuits (AFTCs) with back up layer of Digital Axle Counters provide 40 to 50% increase in Line Capacity on a typical Double Line Section ie increase from 60-70 trains each way to 110-115 trains as is evident from the figures obtained.