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Group A services – Should or should not prepare for the Examination

By on August 15, 2013

There are four groups of services in Indian Railways namely Group A, B, C & D in descending order of hierarchy. In this chapter Group A service is talked upon

Group A services

This is the most sought after service. This group is responsible for the overall administrative, technical and managerial function associated with the Rail transport. The recruitment is through UPSC involving written examination and interview. As on date, there is two examination system for entry in Railways namely 1. IAS and allied services 2. Indian Engineering Services

IAS allied services

This examination is conducted by UPSC. This is the most prestigious Govt. Services in India.  This examination is for large numbers of Govt. Services and priority generally given by candidates are  IAS (Indian Administrative Services), IPS (Indian Police Service), IFS (Indian Foreign Services), IRS ( Indian Revenue Services), IRTS ( Indian Railway Traffic Services), IRAS  (Indian Railway Account Services), IRPS (Indian Railway Personnel Services) etc. Indian Railway commands a reasonable priority position of choice. The role and responsibilities attached to different  Railway services are as follows:

Latest Update: The eight Group A services will be merged into a central service called the Indian Railway Management Service. As explained below, earlier Indian Railways is organised into departments such as traffic, civil, mechanical, electrical, signal & telecom, stores, personnel, and accounts. These departments are vertically separated and are each headed by a secretary-level officer (member) in the Railway Board. They are bound together at Divisional and Zonal Railway through Divisional Railway Manager at Division and General Manager at Zonal Railway. The intention behind merging is that each vertically separated cadre works more for departmental interest and not for the overall interest of the Railways. This has called for restructuring the Railway Board with five members consisting of Chairman Railway Board (CEO), Member-Finance, Member-Infrastructure, Member-Rolling Stock, Member-Operation and Business Development.

Indian Railways and UPSC are in discussion about how to conduct the examination and to select the candidates with a specialised field of educational background.

However, to know what it exists today, one should continue to read as under.

Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS):

There are mainly two streams of this cadre namely operation and commercial. One of the functions of this cadre is public interfaces. The Traffic Department is responsible for the operation and running of trains.  The cadre of the Guard, Station Master, Controllers, administrative control of loco pilots at  HQ / Board level, etc. are under its control. The department is responsible for the utilization of fixed and rolling infrastructure. The commercial department is responsible for revenue collection, marketing, passenger interface, publicity, catering, etc. and Ticket Collector, Ticket sale, Reservation Clerk, Parcel and booking of freight under its control. This cadre commands a respectable position in the Indian Railway system because of the public interface, the responsibility of running of trains, attachment and movement of special coaches such as marriage, inspection carriages etc, the release of emergency quota for train reservation ticket etc.

The cadre commands respect in all areas of decision making connecting with rail transport. An officer selected for engineering services and if gets qualified for IRTS, prefers to join this service. In earlier days, the designation was ‘Superintendent’ like Divisional Operation Superintendent which later changed to managerial cadre with designation as Divisional Operation Manager etc. Power is always associated with responsibility, therefore, this is a 24×7 hour on-the-toe cadre. The cadre is one of the oldest cadres in Indian Railways and having a long list of distinguished officers who have contributed much in the development of Railways and strong fraternity. 

The highest position is Member(Traffic) equivalent to Ex-Officio Secretary to GOI for which IRTS officer is only entitled to occupy the position.

Indian Railway Personal Service (IRPS):

This cadre is responsible for the management and development of the human resource. The modern management has changed the function to Human Resource (HR) etc. whereas in Railways the function is still continuing as Personal Department. This service came into being in the year 1980 when the human resource was considered as a specialized function. Earlier, an officer from other cadres was drafted and posted as a Personnel Officer in the Division as well as in the Head Quarter. The human force works in different places and directly under the control of executive therefore, the real function of human resource development is primarily the responsibility of an executive department. The cadre is responsible for the assessment of manpower need, recruitment, selection, promotion, training,  payment, service records, vacancy assessment, negotiation with recognized labour unions, ensuring implementation of factory act, labour laws etc. Priority for this service is generally low unless a candidate has a specific passion for this type of profession. Power is less so is the responsibility and can have comfortable weekly off.

Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS):

The IRAS cadre of Indian Railways is responsible for the Finance and Accounting functions of the Railways. Core functions of this cadre include maintenance of accounts of Indian Railways and Financial Advice to the executive. At the zonal level, IRAS officers are designated as a Financial Adviser and Chief Account Officers while at the Division level, they are Divisional Finance Managers. Budget Management, Expenditure Control, Earnings Account, Financial scrutiny of various executive proposals are some of the functions performed by IRAS officers. Every expenditure in Indian Railways has to pass through Financial scrutiny. The IRAS cadre exercises substantial control over the affairs of the Indian Railway executives and therefore, derive power in its function and not much of the responsibility of 24×7 hours functioning and on toes management. The cadre came into being 1930 and having a very long list of fraternity to be proud of.

Till 80’s the cadre at the Division and HQ was not under the control of top management, i.e. Divisional Railway Manager or General Manager and executives are only running around to get their job done. Later on Account officers brought under the control of DRMs and GMs and the functioning changed in the interest of Railways. The priority for options to this cadre is also in line with IRTS.

Engineering Service Examination (ESE)

UPSC holds examination for all Group A services of Engineering of all Central Govt. Department like Railways, CPWD, Military Engineering Services, Defense Production etc. of which Indian Railways command the first priority in all streams of engineering functions like Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics and Communication etc. There are basically five engineering cadres recruited through UPSC  for Railways namely Indian Railway Service of Engineers, Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers, Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers, Indian Railway Stores Service.

Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE):

Formation and laying of the track is the first job for any railway to start and therefore Civil Engineering is first engineering, to begin with, and therefore, it is called Engineering Department with assigning Civil along with it. The cadre is responsible for track and its formation, bridges, buildings, in-charge for all the land occupied by the Railways, water supply, etc. and occupies the prominent position in Railways. The cadre finds its root right from the inception of Railways, therefore, had a very strong fraternity of a maximum number of officers at any time.   The cadre is having a very strong say in all matters pertaining to Railway functioning. The cadre commands power because it owns responsibility for the maximum value of assets and also the responsibility requiring 24×7 hours duty with all the time on toes. There are a large number of Railways PSUs which gets its officer requirement from Indian Railways which offer the opportunity of working in a different type of environment. Head of most of the PSUs are officers from this cadre and has a strong fraternity. Mr S Shreedharan belongs to this cadre who retired as Member Engineering, the topmost post of engineering cadre in Railways before joining Konkan Railways and DMRC.

Signal and Telecommunication department was under Member/Engineering prior to its separation and coming under Member Electrical. This was for the reason that function of signalling and engineering depart goes together at ground level but with modern signalling, it was thought otherwise. But this later separated as a separate Member, but with the beginning of IRMS services, this will come under infrastructure cadre.

Joining Engineering cadre is like a dream coming true for every Civil Engineers.

There were 43 posts advertised in the year 2012 of which 6 posts reserved for Differently Able

Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers(IRSME) and Special Class Railway Apprentice (SCRA):

A train consists of an engine and coaches/wagon to transport passenger and freight. Mechanical department is responsible for locomotive, coaches and wagon for manufacturing, maintenance sheds, and workshop. It is also one of the oldest department of Indian Railways. There are two groups in Mechanical Cadre namely  Special Class Railway Apprentice (SCRA) and IRSME. In the case of SCRA, recruitment is though UPSC but with educational qualification of class XII with science and then training and providing a degree in Mechanical Engineering from some affiliated institute presently (BIT/Mesra). There is no purpose to continue with SCRA but for strong SCRA fraternity in Indian Railways.  As regards IRSME it is similar to any other engineering service. The cadre is headed by Member/Mechanical in Railway Board.

IRSME cadre is responsible for the manufacturing of Diesel locomotive(DLW), Coaches (ICF, RCF, Rai-Bareilly factory), maintenance of rolling assets at shed and workshop etc. There are two specialized functions i.e. Diesel Locomotive and other coaches and wagon. Chemical and Metallurgy is a small department in Indian Railways responsible for chemical and metallurgical testing of material and is under the Mechanical Department  Similarly, stores department which is a direct cadre from UPSC is also placed under Member/Mechanical

A young student preparing for IIT examination and if has the capability to qualify than it can as well qualify SCRA examination. The advantage is getting a stipend for years which otherwise you would have spent in any engineering college beside other benefits of free travel, medical etc. besides getting a degree from a recognized institute. The other major advantage is that of getting entry at the minimum age and thus benefit of rising to the highest level in the hierarchy.

As per the latest news, UPSC has proposed for discontinuation of SCRA exam reasoning that they already conducting examination for ESE (IRSME) for which they don’t have the required infrastructure. Indian Railway has given its consent to the proposal of UPSC. There is every possibility there will not any more recruitment for SCRA from this year. And finally, SCRA recruitment discontinued from 2017 onward.

Now with IRMS cadre coming into the system, the entire department will report to Member-Rolling Stock.

Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE)

IRSEE was a small cadre and was under Member/Mechanical till 1987 and, afterwards, under Member/Electrical who is from the cadre of IRSEE. Till the time of Steam Traction, the role of Electrical department was limited to electricity supply to railway establishment, railway station and train lighting and air conditioning and whatever little traction of about 500 RKM existing up to 50’s. With the introduction of Diesel and Electric locomotive, the scenario started changing with the Mechanical department responsible for Diesel Locomotive and Electrical Department responsible for Electric Locomotive. This led to departmental-ism and up-manship to prove the benefit of one traction over another. There is no difference in two locomotives except its source of powering i.e. Diesel engine or directly drawing power from overhead power. India is a net importer of crude oil, there is an obvious reason for electric traction to be economical, therefore, it started progressively introduced with all resistance possible and Electrical department making its position. Then, came the important day when it was decided to create the post of Member (Electrical) called ML,  to look after the management of electrical department along with Signal and Telecommunication department. Now Electrical and S&T departments are playing an important role of a major department and playing an important role of bringing new technologies to improve the transportation system. Air conditioning is also growing along with growth in the country and the day is not far when 60-70% coaches will be air-conditioned.

There are basically three specialized functions namely Electrical Locomotive/EMU Maintenance and Operation, Traction Distribution, Train Lighting and Air-Conditioning, General Services, Locomotive Manufacturing, Railway Electrification, Maintenance Sheds and Shops, Power Generation and use of renewable sources of energy where the role of the Electrical functioning growing day by day.

This is 24×7 hours a week service with the cadre officer remaining on his toes all the time to deliver trouble-free running of trains.

Due to Diesel versus Electric lobby affecting decision making, during 2016, Ministry decided to redistribute the work between Member Mechanical and Electrical and their designation changed as Member (Rolling Stock) and Member (Traction). Member Rolling Stock responsible for all rolling stock (powered like EMU or non-powered) and Member Traction responsible for all types of Locomotive. This change is done only at the top level without disturbing the cadre at a lower level, except that the reporting of electrical and mechanical officer changed accordingly.

With this, the S&T department shifted to Member Engineering for a short period and later on made independent and a new post of DG(Signal) created with a similar power of Member but not equivalent for Board Member.

This has certainly helping railways in streamlining decision making which earlier passing unnecessary delays.

There were 57 posts advertised in the year 2012 of which 08 posts reserved for Differently Able

In case you want to know the training institute for IRSEE visit this link.

Now with the coming of IRMS cadre, power supply and Traction distribution is likely to come under Member-Infrastructure and Electric Locomotive/EMU etc under Member-Rolling Stock.

Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineer(IRSSE):

Signalling is an important aspect of train operation. The permission for a train to start and stop for safe working is controlled through a logical signalling system. The signalling system was mechanical, to begin with, but the advancement of electrical and electronics system introduced Panel Interlocking, Root relay interlocking, Automatic Signalling system and many other developments in the field of signalling to increase sectional capacity. Similarly, telecommunication, train communication, automation in passenger amenities is advancing every day with new features. This has placed immense responsibility on S&T engineers. Presently S&T department is under Member Electrical with two Additional Members one each of Signal and Telecommunication at Board level. The cadre does not have an option to rise to the level of Member/Electrical. Now with cadre structure undertaking and post of MM and ML re-designated as MRS and MTR respectively, the S&T department also made independent under DG(Signal) in the Year 2016.

This is 24×7 hours a week service with the cadre officers remaining on his toes all the time.

There were 48 posts advertised in the year 2012 of which 07 posts reserved for Differently Able.

As on date, there is a separate Member for S&T, but with the restructuring of cadre under consideration, it will come under Member-Infrastructure.

Indian Railway Stores Services (IRSS)

Indian Railways were a technological giant organization up to 50’s and most of the manufacturing of major equipment like coaches, wagon, locomotive etc.  and its components were shop-manufactured. With the advancement of technologies and the specialized subject of procurement and its storage, it was decided to create a separate organization under Member/Mechanical for procurement and material management of stores. This service is open to all the cadres such as Engineering, Mechanical, S&T and Electrical. Normally this is the second choice after the main cadre. The importance of service lies in the fact that there is hardly any item not purchased by the Railways and therefore, the cadre acquires tremendous experience of procurement and its complexities. The job pressure is less and generally limited to office hours. For this reason, many are opting this as a first option.  The cadre provides opportunities to rise in all levels of professional ad general management like DRM/GM except for the highest post of Member/Mechanical.

Vacancies are distributed to ESE of main branches and for the Year 2012 it was as follows:

Civil: 11, Mech: 10.

Due to discontentment in stores cadre, the post of Member-Stores was also created. But now with the restructuring, it is likely to come under Member-Rolling Stock.

The Indian Railway Protection Force (IRPF)

This service was formed in the year 1954. The cadre is

  • Responsible for the protection of Railway property.
  • Assist the state police in maintenance of law and order in various states at the time of elections and other emergencies.
  • Coordinates with the civil police and GRP (Government Railway Police of the respective states) in controlling crime
  • The cadre controlling authority is the Director-General, RPF.
  • Cadre size: 287 posts (direct recruitment – 50%, promotion – 40%, Lateral Entry – 10%).

The cadre is not involved directly in the running of train services except its security watch-dog, therefore not entitled for managerial posts such as DRM/GM.

Indian Railway Medical Services

The Indian Railway Medical Service (IRMS) is an organized Group ‘A’ service. The officers of this service are responsible for providing comprehensive health care to the serving railway employees, retired railway employees and their dependents as well as other categories of staff such as contractors, vendors and licensed porters. In 80’s, the service was Group b service but later on included as Group A service. With many of the up-gradation that came subsequently, the promotion prospect is now almost at par with other organised Group A services. The officer from this cadre does not have any direct role in train operation therefore, not considered for Ex-cadre managerial posts of DRM/GM.

Railway hospitals are equipped with excellent infrastructure for Railway doctors to excel in their field, higher education and respectful living in Railway environment.

General Management Cadre

There was a time up to 80’s when there were three major departments namely Traffic, Engineering ad Mechanical and all Managerial (DRM and GM) and Member posts were manned by these cadre officials only. The situation changed and quota for each department,  depending upon the staff strength in the respective department,  is now introduced for posting as DRM giving an opportunity to all the cadres except security/medical to show their excellence in management as well. All barriers were also removed for posting as GM which is now based on integrated seniority giving equal opportunities to officers of all cadres except security/medical. The important effect of this change was the development of the feeling of Railway-man-ship in all the cadres.

The top post is Chairman Railway Board and only one officer of two batches get the opportunity and read more how the different cadre dominated this post. Click here for details.

There is only one thing which sometimes is a cause for heart burning when the officer of the same batch gets promotion in one cadre but not in another cadre and this difference sometimes goes up to two years. There is hope that this aspect of the cadre will be taken care one day. The merging and restructuring of cadre may help in this regard but at what cost will only be known after passage of time.

If you are looking to join Indian Railways, this is best organized in Govt. sector for many challenging options.

Salary growth of Class I Officer (CSE Allied and ESE – Period 1977-2013)

What is my salary and how it will grow is the most important burning question in every aspirant having intention to prepare for the examination? The salary you get in the first three years is as follows:

Ist Year: Basic 15600/-, Grade Pay 5400/- DA 90% (increased to 100%) 18900/-, TPT/G 3040 = Rs. 42940/-
Second Year: Basic 16880/-, Grade Pay 5400/- DA 90% (increased to 100%) 20052/-, TPT/G 3040 = Rs. 43817/-
Third Year: Basic 16230/-, Grade Pay 5400/- DA 90% (increased to 100%) 1890019467/-, TPT/G 3040 = Rs.45372/-

It may not be possible to predict your salary in the future but one can certainly show the salary growth of a Class I officer joining in 1977 and superannuation in 2013. The same is as follows:

Salary Growth of Class I officer (CSE Allied and ESE)

Indian Railways provide great opportunities and one should decide

Why you should decide to join Govt. service

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Genuine opportunity to serve
  3. To be part of such a large system which people from outside wonders how it works
  4. There is no field of Engineering or Management which get untouched providing you an opportunity to excel in the field of your liking and competency
  5. A salary graph of you and your colleague is similar, and therefore, there is no competition of comparing packages – mental satisfaction ( uski kamij bhi mera jaisee hi sunder hai)
  6. You are different as compared to business or private or PSU job.
  7. Respect in the society and friend circle
    1. You can help in getting emergency quota
    2. A large number of Engineers joining Railways had earlier worked in PSUs at double the package still preferred to join Railways, check from them. It is a higher rating of Railways job in society.
  8. Support of very large fraternity and network of Railwayman ready to support you and your family in an adverse situation
  9. You and your family feel homely and safe  in any part of the country in the Railway area
  10. You had an opportunity for higher studies like a post graduation / PhD in India or abroad
  11. A mediocre officer also gets his promotion at the same pace as that of others in his batch. You have the opportunity to excel because of deep desire and not for out of turn promotion. It makes a difference of positivity of the energy level in you.
  12. Even though you are tied with one organization for the entire 30-38 years of an active career still you can find your boss and place of posting changing almost every two years. 
  13. Job security even if you are mediocre, medical problem etc.

Why you should not join Govt Service?

  1. If you have the desire to earn more money and even ready to compromise conduct rules, you may be a successful one or two times, but if caught, the remaining life will be miserable
  2. If you are confident about your ability and  desire to fly and want to attain heights in your field with out-of-turn promotions
  3. In Govt. Organization and Railways no exception, a group of officers get promotion in one go,  and if you are unlucky and left behind, life will be miserable afterwards. In private organization, if one excels and gets out of turn promotion, the balance remains where they are, and if you are one of them, no pain. You can leave the organization if felt hurt or humiliated. It is not so easy to leave Govt. Organization when you are used to its working and may find difficult to adjust in working with Private organisation.
  4. No one likes boss but when you don’t know how to manage boss and  difficulty in adjusting with the boss
  5. Frequent transfer and disturbance in children’s education. Unable to get their admission in the school/college of your liking due to the place of posting which may be in a small town.
  6. Spouse working and no suitable job for her/him at the place of your  posting resulting into separate living
  7. You own your own house and strong desire to live in that house only
  8. You possess exceptional personal capabilities to succeed. In Govt. or Railway organisation, you succeed to achieve when hold position in the organisation.
  9. When you want to work actively for up to 80 years of age with a purpose

Remember, if you decide to join Group A services of Indian Railways or that matter any other services, decide when you are in last but one year so that you enter at the minimum age and will have the opportunity to rise to the top. This will give you an opportunity to rise to the top.

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There Are 405 Comments

  1. Ashu Anand says:

    Sir, if I take electrical and electronics branch then am I eligible to apply for post of INDIAN RAILWAY SERVICE OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEER

    • Mahesh Kumar Jain says:

      If I understand the question correctly, you mean to say that after completing engineering E&E, can you appear for IRSE which is having the subjects of Civil Engineering. There is no problem but you should prepare for civil engineering for passing the exam. However, if your query is to appear for IRSEE/IRSSE than it is OK and you can appear for any of the two.

  2. NAVEEN KUMAR says:

    i have a dought on this ,i want to know what are requirements to have a job in central railways and what i should have qualification to have job in central railways.

  3. naveen kumar says:

    Can any one help me how to get a job in central railways.And what are the steps to do this things.

  4. Sumitha Arthur says:

    can v take 2 exams of upsc at a time

  5. shubham kumar says:

    iti +b.a

  6. Hritik says:

    Hello, sir/madem you gave very helpful information to other persons but I want to ask a quarry
    That cse computer science engineering branch to railway group A is it possible a job
    And (ESE) eng. Service exam.
    In cs engg. Field of job possible
    I request you to Please show answer. Thanks.

    • Mahesh Kumar Jain says:

      The minimum educational qualification for ESE is graduation in engineering. In case you can prepare for the examination of electrical or signal and telecommunication syllabus, you can apply for that cadre.