Over 77,000 Indian Railways posts vacant in signal, traffic departments

The railways minister had told the Rajya Sabha of 14,815 vacancies in the signal and telecom department and 62,264 in traffic transportation

Engineers staging a protest demanding jobs in Indian Railways, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, 23 February 2022 (photo: Getty Images)
Engineers staging a protest demanding jobs in Indian Railways, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, 23 February 2022 (photo: Getty Images)

Ashlin Mathew

Out of a total 3.12 lakh non-gazetted posts in the Indian Railways lying vacant pan-India as of 23 December 2022, there are a total of 77,079 vacancies under the signal and telecommunications and traffic transportation departments all across the country.

According to multiple replies given in the Rajya Sabha by Union railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, there were 14,815 vacancies in the signal and telecommunications department and 62,264 in the traffic transportation department.

The highest number was in the civil engineering department, with 87,654 vacancies across the country, followed by 64,346 in the mechanical department and 38,096 in the electrical department.

In the South Eastern Railway — which Bahanaga Bazar, the site of the gruesome triple-train tragedy on Friday, 2 June, is a part of — there are 17,811 vacancies for non-gazetted posts and 150 vacant gazetted posts as of 3 February 2023. Vaishnaw had given a detailed response to Congress president and Rajya Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge which included these figures.

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 highest number of vacancies was in the Northern Railway zone (39,226), which included 39,059 non-gazetted vacancies and 167 gazetted vacancies in the zone. This was followed by 30,785 vacancies in the Western Railway zone (30,515 plus 270), 30,735 in the Eastern Railway and 28,876 in the Central Railway.

The least number of vacancies were in the South Western Railway zone with 6,638 in non-gazetted and 58 in gazetted posts.

In all, there were 315,780 vacancies in Groups A, B, and C across the country.

In response to a series of questions asked by Kharge in December 2022, Vaishnaw had replied that only 4,625 posts were filled across the country for both Group A and C vacancies in 2021–22.

The highest number of recruitments happened in 2019–20, with 127,697 vacancies being filled. It must be remembered that 2019 was the year of the general elections.

Highlighting the stark difference between retirement and recruitment figures, Vaishnaw had stated in the Rajya Sabha that 4,666 posts were filled in 2021–22, against the 44,847 employees who had retired.

In 2020–21, the numbers were 5,744 and 46,988 respectively. He was responding to queries raised by Congress MP Phulo Devi Netam.

It was also revealed that as on 1 January 2023, there were 7,427 vacancies in the OBC category, and 6,112 and 5,131 in the SC and ST categories respectively.

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.

Data from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha responses reveal that between 2019–20 and 2020–21, the number of staff employed by the Indian Railways decreased from 1,235,900 to 1,233,700. During 2020–21, a total of 440,000 candidates had given exams for the 1,923 vacancies in the ministerial and isolated categories, while 12.6 million candidates had given the exam for 35,281 vacancies in the non-technical popular categories.

According to a report in The Hindu, the minister had underscored that the Indian Railways would fill nearly 135,000 vacancies this year. Nearly 36.5 million aspirants had applied between 2020 and 2022 for jobs in the Indian Railways. 

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