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Indian Railways has Over 77,000 Vacancies in Signal, Traffic Departments

The signal & telecom department has 14,815 vacancies, while the traffic transportation department has 62,264 vacancies, as per Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw's replies in the Rajya Sabha.

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New Delhi: In a concerning development, over 77,000 vacancies in the signals & telecommunications and traffic & transportation departments of the Indian Railways are lying unfilled. These are among the over three lakh vacancies in the national transporter, as revealed by Railway Minister Ashiwini Vaisnhaw’s replies to questions raised in the Rajya Sabha

AS of December 23,2022, Indian Railways had over 3.12 lakh non-gazetted posts lying vacant across the country, with a significant number of vacancies concentrated in the signal and telecommunications and traffic transportation departments, says a  report published in The National Herald, based on Vaishnaw's responses in the Rajya Sabha.

Of these, the signal and telecommunications department has 14,815 vacancies. In comparison, the traffic transportation department has 62,264 vacancies.

Highlighting the magnitude of the problem, Minister Vaishnaw also disclosed that the civil engineering department faces the highest number of vacancies, with 87,654 positions unfilled, followed by the mechanical department with 64,346 vacancies and the electrical department with 38,096 vacancies.

The dire shortage of personnel in crucial operational departments poses a challenge to the efficient functioning of the Indian Railways, which has often been flagged as a serious concern for passenger safety by various quarters.

Read Also: Balasore Train Tragedy Exposes Ignored Warnings and Lakhs of Vacant Positions in Indian Railways

The South Eastern Railway, which recently witnessed a tragic triple-train incident at Bahanaga Bazar in Odisha’s Balasore district, is grappling with 17,811 vacancies for non-gazetted posts and 150 vacant gazetted posts as of February 3, 2023. Vaishnaw had given a detailed response to Congress president and Rajya Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge which included these figures.

Furthermore, it was disclosed that the Northern Railway zone has the highest vacancies, with 39,226, including both non-gazetted and gazetted positions. The Western Railway zone follows closely with 30,785 vacancies, and the Eastern Railway and Central Railway zones report 30,735 and 28,876 vacancies respectively. The South Western Railway zone, on the other hand, has the least number of vacancies, with 6,638 non-gazetted and 58 gazetted posts remaining unfilled.

The concerning figures continue to mount, with a staggering total of 315,780 vacancies across Groups A, B, and C in the Indian Railways. In response to a series of questions asked by Kharge in December 2022, Vaishnaw replied that only 4,625 posts were filled across the country for both Group A and C vacancies in 2021–22, admitting that the recruitment process has failed to keep up with retirements, as only 4,625 posts were filled in 2021–22, while 44,847 employees retired during the same period. This stark contrast in retirement and recruitment figures highlights the urgent need for prompt action.

In response to the concerning situation, the railway ministry has assured the public that nearly 135,000 vacancies will be filled this year. In a report published in The Hindu on January 9, 2023, Minister Vaishnaw emphasised the significant demand for railway jobs, as approximately 36.5 million aspirants applied between 2020 and 2022.

Read Also: Railway Brass Had Flagged Unfilled Vacancies as Key Reason for Rise in Mishaps in 2022-23

Responding to Kerala's IUML MP Abdul Wahab, the railway ministry had acknowledged that members of the National Railway Mazdoor Union Central Railway had protested at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in front of the divisional railway manager's office after duty hours, with demands that included the filling up of vacancies in different categories of the non-gazetted Group C posts.

In the Central Railway zone alone, the total number of vacant non-gazetted group C posts was 28,650, including 14,203 posts in the safety category posts and 14,447 other posts, the minister had told Wahab. In Bhubaneswar in 2022–23, only 1,008 candidates were empanelled for various Group ‘C’ posts, and in 2021–22, only 104 posts were filled.

The staff shortage is evident in the overall employment figures of the Indian Railways, which saw a decrease from 1,235,900 to 1,233,700 employees between 2019–20 and 2020–21.

During the latter period, many candidates appeared for exams, with 440,000 candidates vying for 1,923 vacancies in the ministerial and isolated categories and 12.6 million candidates competing for 35,281 vacancies in the non-technical popular categories.

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