Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers
The Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME) is a cadre of the Government of India. The officers of this service are responsible for managing the Mechanical Engineering Organisation of the Indian Railways
The recruitment to the cadre is done through two sources
Conducted for the selection of top ranking officials at the government of India (GROUP A). Both of these selection exams are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India. The UPSC is responsible for recruiting middle and top-level bureaucrats for the Government of India.
Role and Function
The main areas of responsibility of IRSME officers are
- Train operations
- Motive Power availability
- Crew Management
- Rolling Stock Management
- Traffic restoration in case of accidents
- Production Units - Locomotives, Coaches, Wheel sets, etc.
- Repair and Manufacturing workshops
This organisation was central to all rolling stock operations when the only modes of traction were Steam Locomotives and Diesel Electric Locomotives. With the use of electric traction on the trunk routes, the responsibility of traction operations has been shared with the Electrical Department.
All the coaches and wagons are maintained by the Mechanical Department. The air-conditioning part of the coaches on the system was maintained by the Electrical Department. A Railway Board order to bring the entire rolling stock under unified maintenance of the Mechanical Department in 2003 was held in abeyance under pressure from Electrical Department Unions.
This has been adopted in 2016 wherein all locomotives (electric & diesel) including crew is now under electeic department. The entire rolling stock mintenance including MEMU and train lighting of coaches is now under mechanical department. Accordingly at Railway Board level post of MEMBER MECHANICAL is redesignated as MEMBER ROLLING STOCK.
The responsibilities and assignments of train operations are loosely referred to as Open Line. A great deal of emphasis is placed on open line experience. Indeed, there are few cases of people who have succeeded in the organisation without a significant tenures on the Open Line.
From a general public's point of view the most exciting tasks are related to accident relief and traffic restoration. IRSME is responsible for designing, acquiring / building and maintenance of the accident relief infrastructure and organisation. In times of emergency, the appropriate officer is responsible for mobilising the Accident Relief Medical Equipment (ARME) and Accident Relief Trains (ART). Accidents are times of great stress and anxiety. Inquiries and investigation into the cause can carry on for months after a major accident.
The Indian Railways does a great deal of manufacturing and would rival any other engineering house in India. The overall manufacturing is split between the Production Units (managed independently) and the zonal workshops (managed by the zonal Railways)
Repair and Manufacturing
The zonal railways have workshops that manufacture and repair equipment. These workshops can be very large (e.g. Kharagpur workshop has 12000 workers and is spread over 150 acres (0.61 km2) with 11 km of roads inside the premises). It is only the organisational structure that prevents them from being called Production Units.
The IRSME is headed by a Member (Mechanical) in the Railway Board (Ministry of Railways). Member (Mechanical) is better known by the acronym MM, now Railway Board has redesignated as MEMBER ROLLING STOCK ( MEMBER (RS)).
In each of the zones the organisation is headed by a Chief Mechanical Engineer. The CME reports to the General Manager of the Railway. The office of the Member (Mechanical) of the Railway Board guides the CME on technical matters and policy.
At the divisional level the Sr Divisional Mechanical Engineers head the organisation. The Sr DME reports to the Divisional Railway Manager of the Division. Technical supervision is provided by the zonal Chief Mechanical Engineer. at entry level ADME (assistant divisional engineer ) commands 500-15000 staff and 100- 250 trains;
Workshops are headed by Chief Works Managers. Since workshops are managed by the zonal Railways, the CWMs report to the CME.
Production Units, the manufacturing plants of the Indian Railways, are managed directly by the ministry. The General Managers of the PUs report to the Railway Board. The Production Units are
- Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi
- Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan
- Diesel-Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala
- Integral Coach Factory, Chennai
- Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala
- Wheel & Axle Plant, Bangalore
- Rail Spring Karkhana, Gwalior
- Modern coach Factory, Rae Bareily