Railways set to fill 1.35 lakh vacancies this year: Ashwini Vaishnaw

Crores of applicants who had appeared for recruitment exams in the last couple of years to be considered

February 05, 2023 07:38 pm | Updated February 06, 2023 12:27 am IST - New Delhi

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses industry leaders in Hyderabad on February 4, 2023.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses industry leaders in Hyderabad on February 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

After a delay of two years owing to COVID-19, the Indian Railways is back on track to fill up nearly 1.35 lakh vacancies. Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw told The Hindu that the posts are being filled from among crores of applicants who sat for recruitment exams.

Of the 14.93 lakh sanctioned posts in Railways, over 3.14 lakh are vacant, said Mr. Vaishnaw. The national transporter is hoping to plug up to 43% of this gap by April this year and nearly 3.65 crore aspirants had applied between 2020 and 2022, official sources said.

Up to 1,03,769 of the vacancies are in the Level 1 category which includes trackspersons, pointsmen, electrical works, signal and telecom assistants, who are crucial for smooth running of the Railways. Nearly 1.1 crore persons had applied for Level 1 posts, official sources said. The recruitment exams were conducted from August 17 to October 11 last year, and results of the written exams were declared on December 23. “The exams were conducted in 99 shifts across 33 days, within three months,” sources said.

The Railways ties up with IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services, National Computer Institute of Technology, and Aptech, among others, to conduct computer-based tests. The transporter spends anywhere between ₹300 to ₹400 per candidate at every stage of the exam. “The massive exercise of conducting exams has cost Railways anywhere above ₹1,200 crore,” sources said.

Pre-pandemic, an exam centre could accommodate up to 1,000 applicants, which reduced to 200 to 300 applicants due to social distancing norms. “This led to an increase in the number of days on which exams were conducted adding to the delay,” said sources.

The next stage involves Physical Efficiency Tests for posts such as trackspersons which require staff to patrol, run or walk within 8 km of their designated area on rail tracks as well as lift heavy weights. “While males need to run 1,500m in 4.15 minutes, females need to cover 1,000m in 5.40 minutes. These physical tests are expected to be completed in February. We are hoping to recruit by April this year,” sources said.

Also Read | Railway jobs: Chugging towards a secure system

Another 1.25 crore persons have applied for Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) exams which were held between December 2020 to and July 2021 and an additional 1.3 crore applied for exams held from May 9 to October 11 2022.

“There are 35,281 vacancies in these categories which include station masters, goods guards, clerks, traffic assistants and so on that we expect to fill,” said sources. Railways had released the notification for filling up NTPC posts in 2019, and the process involves written exam, medical evaluation and document verification. The process had been delayed because of protests by a section of applicants seeking “fair assessment”. “We are addressing these grievances,” said sources.

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