Tamil Nadu

Top railway official behind Vande Bharat Express shifted after cash crunch episode



He played a key role in India’s first semi-high speed train

Southern Railway’s Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer Shubhranshu has been transferred and posted as Chief Administrative Officer, Rail Wheel Plant, Bela in Bihar. The official played a key role in the design and development of India’s first semi-high speed Train18 — later flagged off as the Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Varanasi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2019.

Mr. Shubhranshu was the first to flag the funds crunch in Southern Railway hobbling On Board Housekeeping Services (OBHS), pest control and linen supply on 110 trains. He wrote two letters in June/July 2019 to the Railway Board explaining the issue in detail.

A month later, his point was fully backed by Southern Railway General Manager Rahul Jain, who not only sent an SOS to the Ministry of Railways but even warned that the passenger amenity activities may have to be withdrawn if adequate funds were not allotted in time.

With no indication of additional funds coming in, Mr. Shubhranshu directed all the six divisions — Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchi, Palghat, Thiruvananthapuram and Salem — to issue notices to contractors, putting in abeyance OBHS on 86 trains with effect from September 1, 2019.

At this point, however, top railway authorities intervened and facilitated an immediate sanction of ₹50 crore to pay contractual payments that were due. The order suspending OBHS was withdrawn immediately after this. But a day after the issue was settled and zonal authorities published a statement that all was well, Mr. Shubhranshu was moved out unceremoniously.

Premature transfer

It was only in February this year that Mr. Shubranshu was transferred from the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, to the Southern Railway Headquarters.

“In the normal course, officers are transferred only after two years of settling down in a post unless there are grave charges,” a senior railway official said.

“The transfer of the PCME to Rail Wheel Plant, Bela, is seen as a punishment posting, though the order doesn’t cite any reason for his premature transfer.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 7:39:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/top-railway-official-shifted-after-cash-crunch-episode/article29240822.ece

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