Indian Railways has decided to send its staff members for "skill-based training" to enhance their productivity and efficiency levels.
The massive exercise for all its employees -- Project Saksham -- will continue for the next one year. Employees in each zone will be put through a week's training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.
In a letter to the zonal General Managers on October 30, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani emphasised that "there is a need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their efficiency".
With the growing rail network, new trains, different high-quality services, the growing expectation of passengers for better amenities and services -- and the promise of the government to deliver superior and safe rail travel -- there is a need to rise to the occassion to deliver the promise, Lohani said.
"While continuous learning and educational training has been an integral philosophy and approach of the Railways, there is need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their productivity and efficiency.
"So it has been decided that all employees in each zone will be put through a week's training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year," Lohani said.
He also asked the General Managers to ensure that the training requirement is quickly identified for each category of employee in their specific zones and asked them to formulate a schedule by December 31, 2017.
"The training shall be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in railway training centres depending on the nature of the training," he said.
Lohani also asked the General Managers to ensure that the reporting managers of all employees are actively involved in the training processes and the focus should be on "making a difference" on the job.
He instructed the General Managers to complete the training within nine months and asked them to personally monitor progress by devising metrics to ascertain the impact of the Project Saksham.
Following the stampede at the Elphinstone Station in Mumbai on September 29, in which 23 people were killed and over 150 injured, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced a series of steps, including decentralisation of power, to carry out safety-related work.
On October 25, the Railways said that General Managers had been given full powers to sanction out-of-turn safety-related work without any ceiling "within the financial limit set out by Ministry of Finance".
The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) and Chief Workshop Managers can now re-engage retired railway employees up to 62 years to take care of safety and maintenance related work wherever there are vacancies.
Enhanced powers for repairs of track machines were also given to the field officers for faster track safety work.
The Railways had substantially simplified the procedures for procurement of material like spare parts for locomotives, coaches and the like.
Junior field officers and supervisors in charge have been provided multi-utility vehicles and may hire vehicles for up to Rs 5,000 per case for rushing to breakdown sites without loss of time. This will lead to faster restoration of train services and improve punctuality/safety of trains.
DRMs were also given full powers to undertake projects on Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) basis like setting up of laundries and to enter into Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) for critical equipment with the OEMs to ensure uninterrupted services.
Meanwhile, Station Directors in large stations had been given the powers of the Branch Officers in the divisions to enable them to take decisions for smooth operations. Instructions were issued to post young and dynamic officers as Station Directors at 75 important stations.