What is the job of an IES officer (in Railways) ?

Hello friends, when it comes to the ‘most wanted’ jobs in India, people tend to focus entirely on the selection procedure rather than the actual job content. Be it civil services or engineering services, all we hear is about exams, coachings and interviews. But aren’t we supposed to take a look at the content of job we are going to do?

Whenever people are not talking about exams, they are talking about ‘bangla, gaadi, paisa and sahabgiri’ (bungalow, vehicle, money and officialdom). On basis of these 4 parameters, expectations are set for all the jobs and thus their demand and competitiveness. Now that I feel that I am out of this vicious mindset, I should help you too to jump out of it.

“Think of any job in terms of its contents, not in terms of its selection exams or perks.”

When you start doing this, you will find things a lot more easier, else you will keep oscillating among IAS/IES/MBA.

So, in this post, I will tell you about the job content of an IES officer in Railways. Since, I am part of this service, I can tell you about it clearly. As far as other services are concerned, I don’t have much knowledge, but I will try to ask my friends who are in those services to clear out the fog.

Indian Railways is a really really huge organization. And to manage this organization is not an easy task. That’s why it has been divided into departments – Electrical (IRSEE), Mechanical (IRSME) , Engineering (IRSE), Signal & Telecom (IRSSE), Personnel (IRPS), Accounts (IRAS) , Traffic and Commercial (IRTS). The technical departments are headed and managed by Group A officers recruited via ESE. Rest of departments are headed and managed by Group A officers recruited via CSE.

I will write here about the Electrical department, since that’s where I am. However, all other technical departments work on similar lines.

Oh Yes, you will not be called an IES officer, rather you will called by the name of your service – IRSEE/IRSSE/IRSE etc.

Electrical department in Railways can be divided into basically 4 sections into which you will be posted as an IRSEE officer –

  1. Traction Distribution (TrD) – Responsibility includes maintenance of Over head equipments (all those wires and poles and substations which you see while you travel through an electrified section). You have to ensure that trains must get power supply to operate in your division / sub-division. You will be responsible for getting the failures attended, to bring new technologies and manage man power related to TrD. You will be posted in a division or a subdivision.
  2. Traction Rolling Stock (TRS) – Responsibilities includes maintenance of Electric locos ( The thing which is generally called as ‘Engine’ of a train is actually ‘Loco’ in railways parlance). You will be posted in electric loco sheds and you will be responsible for every aspect related to the loco shed ranging from man power to improvements.
  3. Train Lighting & Air Conditioning (TL&AC) – Every railway coach has got electrical components and need maintenance and repair. You will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of Train lighting and air conditioning of the coaches. You will be posted in a coaching depot or a mechanical workshop.
  4. Traction Operation (TrO) – Operation of electrical loco is the prime responsibility. Man power management is the main job and hence more of a administrative job. You will be posted in a division/ subdivision and you will have to arrange manpower for train operation.
  5. General Services (GS) – Responsibilities include maintenance and repair of power supply to railway colonies, railway stations and other electrical installations of railways which are not directly involved in train operation. You will be posted in a division or sub division. At some places GS and TL&AC are looked after by the same officer.

So, its the tip of ice-berg. Apart from these, you may be posted in Railway electrification projects (CORE) or production units (RCF Kapurthala, ICF Chennai, CLW Chittaranjan etc) or in RDSO Lucknow. You can always google to know more about any of them. Apart from these, you can also go on deputation to other sister organizations and railway’s PSUs like DMRC, other metro projects , Konkan railways etc.

Similarly in other departments there are tons of responsibilities classified according to their job contents.

Opportunities are end less and so are the responsibilities. You can always introduce something new in your section bit by bit.

“The real satisfaction in a job comes when you see the positive difference that you have created.”

So am I doing something which is giving me that satisfaction??

Hell yeah! I am trying to do some things in my workshop that are not part of my routine job – Introduction of infrared thermography for easy & early detection of faults in electrical installations, Computerization of electrical stores records for quick requisition and streamlining, Installation of sensors in offices to reduce power consumption etc.

Challenges are infinite and so are the opportunities. An officer needs to have patience, perseveranceĀ and self determination.

Now, a rapid fire information round to give you quick answers –

Life- The life of an IES officer is the way he/she wants to make it. He can be the most satisfied, happy person on earth or he can be otherwise too. Opportunities are immense here. You work as an administrator, mostly looking after management of resources, be it, man or material. Job content is good.

Work-Life balance- Very good. For most of the postings, it is very good. Only in some rare cases you will find it difficult to balance personal life with the work load.

Public interaction- Very limited. In railways, engineering services are rarely in direct dealing with public. That means, in most of the cases, no one will be familiar with your posts.

Work hours- In divisions, it is usually 10-7 (or 6.30) and in PUs and workshops it is 8.30-6. However, officers are considered to be on duty 24-7 so no attendance is taken. Nowhere you will be supposed to give your attendance.

Scope of innovation- High. But that depends on where you are posted. However, almost everywhere there is a scope of improvement and the sense of satisfaction is immense.

Job content- Mostly managerial. However in the initial 4-5 years you are supposed to be working close to the technical aspects of railways.

Salary- Govt of India has fixed pay band for all Group A officers of a particular grade. So, whether IAS or IES officer, the salary is same (apart from the allowances).

Political interference- Almost none.

Feudalism- Huge. However, it varies slightly from zone to zone. Humongous bungalows, domestic help etc are almost everywhere. The respect that you receive inside railways will make you get addicted to it!

Vertical hierarchy – Very rigid. In most of the cases, you will find yourself on the mercy of your boss.

Opportunities- Nice. You can go on deputation to any GoI department.

Body Guard/ Gunners – Why do you need that? No bodyguards for you unless you are DRM / GM.

This was just a small peek into the huge world in which we work. If you have any more questions, just shoot it in the comments. See ya!

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