In a major policy initiative, the Railways has initiated a move to separate the role and functions of the ministry from that of the seven-member Railway Board.
The Railway Board currently oversees administrative, institutional and policy issues concerning the state-owned transporter in consultation with or directions from the railways minister.
If the plan is implemented, decisions including transfers and posting of Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) officers will rest entirely with the ministry.
The Railway Board will monitor routine operational matters like supervision to ensure that freight loading targets are being met. “The Board will make suggestions to improve operational efficiency, but the ministry will take the final call in such matters”, sources said.
“If the plan gets through, the Railway Board will become to the ministry what the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is to the finance ministry”, an official said.
If and when the separation is announced, it will mark the culmination of an “incremental process” of restructuring the rail bureaucracy, initiated shortly after Suresh Prabhu took charge as railways minister.
Several experts committees have in the past recommended a revamp of the Railway Board to break the organization’s “silo structure” that encouraged an “inward looking and non-customer oriented” approach.