Indian Railway Stores Service

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The Indian Railways Stores Service (IRSS) is a cadre of the Government of India. The officers of this service are the procurement and logistics specialists, contract managers on the Indian Railways, providers of logistics for the transportation of material from and within various railways as well as the planners and maintainers of the intelligent warehousing with automated storage and retrieval systems on the Indian Railways.

Recruitment & Job responsibility of IRSS[edit]

IRSS Officers man the senior posts of stores department and also general administrative posts of Indian Railways.[1] The members of this group A service are recruited through the Engineering Services Examination conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission [2] The basic qualification for appearing in this examination is a degree in engineering, and all the members belonging to this service are engineers. The Department of Personnel and Training DOPT[3] defines it as a Technical Service. The total sanctioned strength of cadre is 656. IRSS cadre not only caters to stores departments but contribute significantly to the general administration of Indian Railways in particular and the Government of India in general. The various ex-cadre posts held by officers of service are Chairman of Railway Board, General Manager, Divisional Railway Manager, Additional Divisional Railway Manager, and Chairman of the Railway Recruitment Board. Many officers are also working on Deputation to Government of India.

Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS) is one of the nine organized service of Indian Railways. The IRSS cadre is responsible for forecasting, planning, procurement of material, logistics management, and warehousing of Indian Railway's assets. It is also responsible for giving material support to production of railway coachs, locomotives, and railway wagons. Realization of revenue by selling of scrap is another major function of the Stores Department. This is done by means of auctions, tender sale, and staff sales.

Role and Function of Stores Department In Indian Railways[edit]

The stores discipline performs a significant and major role in all the activities of Indian Railways. These are directly connected with train operations and contribute to productivity and earnings. The activities also interface with customers and thereby reflect the image of Indian railways. The major functions of stores department are:


  1. Procurement & distribution of spare parts, lube oil, grease, and other related general items to consignees in 7300 stations over all Indian Railways for day-to-day operation, maintenance of trains, rolling stock, etc.
  2. Procurement & supply of components to major mechanical, electrical, and signaling Workshops for maintenance of coaches, wagons and for in-house manufacture of items.
  3. Procurement and supply of sub assemblies and components to the production units for manufacture of new diesel locomotive, electric locomotive, coaches, and wagons.
  4. Supply of spare parts to major diesel and electric locomotive sheds for maintenance of diesel locomotives, electric locomotives], and electric multiple units.
  5. Procurement and supply of Fittings and components for maintenance of AC coaches, General Coaches and Wagons over Indian Railways.
  6. Procurement of modern machines for upgrading the old workshops of Indian Railway, through COFMOW
  7. Procurement of complete units of rolling stocks
  8. Procurement of Materials required for Railway Electrification such as contact copper wire, catenary wire, traction power transformers and signalling cables in CORE .
  9. Procurement for materials for Construction of New Railway Lines in Northeast Frontier Railway.

Stocking & warehousing[edit]

  1. Stocking approximately one lakh different type of item in more than 250 stores depots spread across the country.
  2. Arranging inspection of these stocked items.
  3. Distribution of these stocked items by multi-modal logistics to various consumption centers.
  4. Inventory control of the stocked items
  5. Scientific recoupment of the stocked items
  6. Arrange the Non-Stock Item when required urgently to avoid critical position for smooth functions


1. Procurement planning of spares and sub assemblies

2. Inventory planning and budgetary forecasts

3. Planning and formulation of logistics for supply for items to users over all the Stations

4. Development of vendors 5. Market survey and source selection for introducing latest available items


  1. Identification and inspection of scrap lying at various points of Indian Railway system
  2. Collection of scrap wherever feasible, segregation and making of lots from the point of view of selling
  3. Arranging public auctions and selling
  4. Selling through tenders for certain items
  5. E-auctioning
  6. Delivery of scrap including specialized weighments.

Supply of uniforms[edit]

  1. Procurement of cloth
  2. Cloth cutting in the railway's own factories
  3. Stitching of uniforms by different means, which includes handicraft centers


  1. Manufacture of printed card tickets and their distribution at various stations all over the Indian Railways
  2. Purchase of pre-printed tickets for all the computer reservation centers
  3. Printing and supply of timetables, money valued books, and other stationery items

Evolution of purchase function in Indian Railways[edit]

At the time of independence, Indian Railways was running primarily on steam locomotives. Most of the components required for steam locomotives were made in workshops, and the components which were to be purchased, were very few. The stores requirements for track, signaling, C&W and other general items were also inadequate. As, at that time, the industrialization of country had just started, a substantial number of stores were to be imported mainly through India Supply Mission. The function of the stores department, at that time, was limited and mainly centered on storekeeping.

However, with the start of dieselisation in 1950s and speeding up of electrification from 1960s, the face of railways started changing. Electric locomotives, compared to steam locomotives, required more items that were sophisticated and had to be purchased. It was mainly with dieselisation and electrification, that the purchase function of railways started evolving though other changing areas, e.g. signaling, production of coaches, track laying, and maintenance activity. Apart from more number of purchase items, the issues like quality and reliability of items and the firms who were supplying them also became relevant as diesel and electric locomotives required sophisticated items for which credentials and capabilities of vendors needed to be pre-assessed. Activity of approval and registration of firms thus started. As the railway system was expanding, the funds became scarce and there was an urgent need to keep inventories at optimum levels so that capital could be used elsewhere, making inventory control important. Similarly the scrap sales function also became more and more important over the years.

Purchasing and its allied activities became complex as the traffic and train services increased in number and size. Purchase activity, which was clerical in nature in earlier days, had to respond to the needs of time become professional. The 1980s and 1990s saw more types of rolling stocks and improved maintenance practices. The railway network as measured by track km remained more or less the same, the increase in traffic and customer expectation put severe constraints on all the resources like track, rolling stock sheds, and workshops. Less time became available for maintenance. From the mid 1990s, safe running of trains emerged as an important issue and compared to previous decades, and more items became essential for safe operation of trains. All these issues put severe strain on railways purchasing system.

Over the years, Indian Railways' purchases have gone manifold both in terms of value and number of items. The technical, industrial, and commercial scenario of the country has also changed significantly. There are now more standards, specifications, and accrediting bodies, and more central, state and local laws. Purchasing in today's world is done in a complex environment.

The members of the IRSS on the Indian Railways are the procurement and logistics specialists responsible for procurement of various goods and services to the tune of Rs. 25000 Crores annually, and disposal of scrap to the tune of Rs. 3000 Crores per annum in the form of auction and sale of electric and diesel locomotives, old coaches and wagons, and old bridge structures along with the rails released from the gauge conversion activities. (These figures are from the latest IR-Yearbook)

They also manage huge warehouses attached with the major coaching and wagon workshops as well as the electric and diesel locomotive sheds.

They are the logistics managers for transportation of material through the roadways.


The department is organized in three tiers. The top tier is at the Railway Board level, the second tier at the Zonal Railway level and the third tier at the divisional or the district level.

At the apex level, this department is headed by Director General (Railway Stores)[DG(RS)] who represents the department at the Railway Board level and directly reports to Chairman Railway Board(CRB). DG(RS) is in turn assisted by Additional Member(Railway Stores),Advisor(Railway Stores),Executive Directors, and Directors.

At the zonal levels, the principal head of the department is the Principle Chief Materials Manager(PCMM). The PCMM is assisted by Chief Materials Managers(CMMs). These CMMs in turn have various Dy. Chief Materials Managers, and in turn, they are assisted by the Senior Materials Managers and the Assistant Materials Managers. The Stores department manages about 200 warehouses that feed into the repair workshops and maintenance sheds. The Warehouses called depots headed by a Depot Officer. Depots attached to workshops are headed by Dy. CMMs, and electric and diesel locomotive sheds headed by SMMs. These depots directly reports to PCMM Division headed by Sr. DMMs who report to Divisional Railway Managers. Sr. DMMs are responsible for material management at divisional level by catering needs to others branches of divisions. They are responsible for coordination of scrap arising out of division in close association with the Engineering Department. Sr. DMMs also do uniform management for various grades of running staff such as guards, TTE, station masters.

Objectives of the department for the coming years[edit]

Recent policy decisions have been made by the Ministry of Railways for expanding and improving the conditions of railway infrastructure, amenities on trains, railway stations, and other railway premises for passengers and other railway users. As a result, phenomenal growth has taken place in all the activities including those of the Stores department. Since economic liberalization started in early 1990's, the pace of growth has increased substantially and Indian Railways has set ambitious targets for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan.

Scientific materials and supply chain management have emerged in recent years as important managerial functions. A systematic application of the tools and techniques of materials management can achieve considerable saving in costs and increase in productivity. No management can afford to ignore these concepts and techniques in an environment marked by liberalization, globalization, enhanced competition, and rapid progress in technology, particularly in the areas of automation and computerization.

The objective is to increasingly apply the modern concepts related to integrated materials management, strategic and operational aspects of outsourcing and procurement, the interface of materials management and supply chain management. The objective is also to adopt the latest techniques of cost control and optimization by leveraging information technology tools for development and implementation of an efficient materials management system in the organization. It is needless to say that all is to be done in public procurement platforms in most economic manner.

The technical, industrial and commercial scenario of the country has also changed significantly. There are now more number of standards, specifications, accrediting bodies and also more central, state and local laws. Even organizations much smaller in size and scope than Railways appoint persons expert in techno-commercial areas like taxation, port clearance, law and accountancy. The officers manning the cadre will be encouraged to take special interest and become specialist in one of the areas of scientific materials management, some of which are given below-

The market in India has also undergone tremendous change ever since the liberalization process was initiated in early 1990's. The boundaries between the domestic and global market have become thin and transparent. A number of global players and multi-nationals have entered the Indian market and are keen to join hands with Indian Railways. In order to take advantage of market conditions, Indian Railways has to make major changes in their rules, procedures, and methodology of procurement, and the methodology of disposal of non-performing assets and unserviceable materials. For example, green procurement, e-procurement, e-payments, reverse auction, and eco-friendly disposal systems have to be not only introduced early but implemented with speed and on a sustainable basis.

E-Procurement: since 2009, Indian Railways Stores Service achieved the distinction of going 100% digital on tendering and procurement through web based online process using PKI and digital signatures completing all 26 railway units (both zonal & P.U.s). This is the biggest web-based procurement portal in Asia using single window function for all procurements by Indian Railways, crossing over two Lakh online tenders through fully secured website . E-Auction: IRSS successfully achieved & adopted Online E-Auction process since May 2013, crossing E-Auction Revenue over 1000 CR using full secured single window e-Auction process, providing online net banking and payment, enabling purchasers across India to participate online.


  1. ^ "Indian Railway". 31 July 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]