Railway Board asked to raise pay for train controllers to fill vacancies

There has been no direct recruitment of traffic apprentices since 2020, with 75% of posts being filled by promoting station masters, guards and train clerks


There appears to be a dearth of train controllers in the Indian Railways ever since the direct recruitment of traffic apprentices was stopped in 2020. The practice being followed ever since is to promote station masters, guards and train clerks to the post of controller. Once 75 per cent of the posts are filled in this manner, the remaining are filled by candidates who pass the limited departmental competitive exam.

The job of a controller is a rather responsible one, but few are opting for the same. Controllers are required to be alert every second of their duty hours and as such the role is rather demanding. Therefore, takers for this indispensable role are few and far between, which explains the shortage.

Senior officers have suggested to the Railway Board that the salary and benefits for controllers should be increased taking into account the stress levels and challenges of the job. safe and smooth train operations.

Earlier, station masters looked forward to a controller post as it was a promotion, in terms of pay scale too. However, the 7th Central Pay Commission made the initial pay grade of station masters and section controllers equal. Therefore, station masters do not look forward to playing section controllers any more, as it is no longer an upgradation. In fact, the demands of the job increase but the pay and perks do not. The stressful nature of a section controller’s job has often pushed them to seek a return to their station master role in the past.

Not surprisingly, therefore, senior railway officers are now finding it difficult to find candidates for the post of controllers. They have suggested that the Railway Recruitment Board restore the direct recruitment process for traffic apprentices, with better pay (higher than the station masters’) and special allowances, time off to rest and take a break, and additional benefits. The senior officers believe that it is essential to take measures to ensure the physical and mental well-being of controllers.

Controllers are paid a special train controlling allowance of Rs 5,000, which senior officers have suggested should be increased to Rs 15,000, and should be included in the basic pay. The other option is to offer an allowance which is equal to 25 per cent of the base pay, along with benefits post retirement.

There is also a suggestion to fill up 50 per cent of section controller posts via direct recruitment quota and the remaining 50 per cent b promoting those from feeder cadre, including station masters, train clerks and so on.

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