How to Become a Chief Engineer in Railway? A Complete Guide
August 29, 2023 8 mins to read
The railway sector in India is one of the largest and most complex transportation systems in the world, with over 68,000 km of track length and 7,500 stations. It carries more than 8 billion passengers and 1.2 billion tonnes of freight annually. Railway engineers are the professionals who design, construct, operate, and maintain the railway infrastructure and systems. They play a vital role in ensuring the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of the railway network.
If you are interested in becoming a chief engineer in railway, you will need to have a strong academic background, clear competitive exams, undergo rigorous training, and gain relevant experience. In this article, we will discuss the educational requirements, railway selection exams, job assignment and training, work responsibilities, career scope, and frequently asked questions for aspiring railway engineers.
To become a chief engineer in railway, you will need to meet the following educational requirements:
Pass the 10+2 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination in the science stream from a recognized board with at least 45% aggregate marks. You should have physics, chemistry, and mathematics or physics, chemistry, and biology as your subjects.
Clear college entrance exams such as Joint Entrance Examination-Main (JEE Main), Joint Entrance Examination-Advanced (JEE Advanced), Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (MHT CET), Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT), West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Aptitude Test (IISER Aptitude Test), Manipal Entrance Test (MET), or Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE).
Complete an engineering programme from a recognized college or university. You can choose any engineering stream such as civil, electrical, mechanical, electronics, or instrumentation engineering. You can also opt for programmes that focus on the railway sector such as Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Railway Engineering or Master of Technology (M.Tech) in Railway Engineering. The duration of these programmes is four years and two years respectively. To pursue M.Tech in Railway Engineering, you will need to have a B.Tech or a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree and at least two years of railway engineering experience.
Alternatively, you can do a one-year correspondence diploma in railway engineering with the Institution of Permanent Way Engineers. It is open to railway employees with an HSC in the science stream and B.E./B.Tech/diploma holders with two years of railway engineering experience. You can also do diploma programmes by the Institute of Rail Transport such as Diploma in Rail Transport and Management, Diploma in Transport Economics and Management, Diploma in Multi-Modal Transport (Containerization) and Logistics Management, or Diploma in Railway Engineering.
Railway Selection Exams
To become a chief engineer in railway, you will need to clear one or more of the following railway selection exams conducted by the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) or the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC):
RRB Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP) and Technician Exam: This exam is for candidates who want to join as assistant loco pilots or technicians in various departments of Indian Railways. The exam consists of two stages: Computer Based Test (CBT) and Computer Based Aptitude Test (CBAT). The CBT has four sections: Mathematics, General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Science, and General Awareness and Current Affairs. The CBAT has five test batteries: Memory Test, Following Directions Test, Depth Perception Test, Concentration Test, and Perceptual Speed Test. The exam also requires document verification and medical examination.
RRB Senior Section Engineer & Junior Engineer (RRB SSE JE): This exam is for candidates who want to join as senior section engineers or junior engineers in various disciplines such as civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, instrumentation engineering etc. The exam consists of two stages: CBT 1 and CBT 2. The CBT 1 has four sections: Mathematics, General Intelligence and Reasoning, General Awareness, and General Science. The CBT 2 has five sections: General Awareness, Physics and Chemistry, Basics of Computers and Applications, Basics of Environment and Pollution Control, and Technical Abilities. The exam also requires document verification and medical examination.
Indian Engineering Services Examination (IES/ESE): This exam is for candidates who want to join as engineers in various services such as Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE), Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE), etc. The exam consists of three stages: Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Personality Test. The Preliminary Examination has two papers: Paper I – General Studies and Engineering Aptitude, and Paper II – Engineering Discipline. The Main Examination has two papers: Paper I – Engineering Discipline, and Paper II – Engineering Discipline. The Personality Test assesses the candidates’ leadership, initiative, intellectual curiosity, balance of judgement, and communication skills.
Job Assignment and Training
After clearing the railway selection exams, you will be assigned to a specific zone or division of Indian Railways based on your rank, preference, and availability of vacancies. You will then undergo a rigorous training process for successful candidates. The training process varies depending on the service or post you have joined.
For example, if you have joined as an assistant loco pilot, you will undergo a training of about 17 months at one of the Zonal Training Schools of Indian Railways.
If you have joined as an engineer through IES/ESE, you will undergo a training of about 18 months at one of the Centralized Training Institutes of Indian Railways followed by a probationary period of about 12 months at your respective service or cadre.
As a railway engineer, you may have the following work responsibilities:
Planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining railway infrastructure such as tracks, bridges, tunnels, stations, signals, and overhead wires.
Assessing railway construction materials, calculating soil capacity, and analyzing groundwater levels.
Estimating costs, material requirements, personnel, and work completion dates for railway projects.
Implementing and operating automated systems such as signaling systems, train control systems, communication systems, etc.
Undertaking mechanical maintenance of trains such as engines, carriages, brakes, wheels, etc.
Supervising traffic control and ensuring safety measures such as speed limits, signals, warnings, etc.
Coordinating with other engineers, technicians, contractors, suppliers, and authorities for railway operations and projects.
Preparing reports, drawings, specifications, and manuals for railway engineering works.
Conducting research and development activities for improving railway technology and performance.
The career scope for railway engineers in India is vast and promising. Selected candidates can work in the following services:
Civil engineers: Candidates with a civil engineering background can work in services such as the Indian Railways service of engineers, Indian Railways stores service, central engineering service, Indian defence service of engineers, Indian ordnance factories service, central water engineering Grade A, central engineering service (roads), and assistant executive engineer (in Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) Grade A).
Mechanical engineers: Candidates with a mechanical engineering background can work in services such as the Indian Railways service of mechanical engineers, Indian Railways stores service, central water engineering Grade A service, central power engineering service, Indian ordnance factories service, Indian naval armament service, assistant executive engineer Grade A in corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Ministry of Defence, assistant naval store officer Grade-I in the Indian navy, central electrical & mechanical engineering posts, assistant executive engineer (in Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) Grade A), Indian supply service (Junior Time Scale (JTS) Group A), central engineering services (roads) Grade A, and Indian inspection service (assistant director Grade J).
Electrical engineers: Candidates with a background in electrical engineering can work in services such as the Indian Railways service of electrical engineers, Indian Railways stores service, central electrical & mechanical engineering service, Indian naval armament service, Indian ordnance factories service, assistant executive engineering Grade A in corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Ministry of Defence, central power engineering service, Indian defence service of engineer, assistant naval store officer Grade-I (electrical engineering posts) in the Indian navy.
Electronics & telecommunication engineering: Candidates with a background in electronics & telecommunication engineering can work in services such as the Indian Railways service of signal engineers, Indian Railways stores service (electronics & telecommunication engineering posts), Indian naval armament services (electronics engineering posts), assistant executive engineer Grade A (electronics & telecommunication engineering posts) in corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Ministry of Defence, central power engineering service Group A (electronics & telecommunication engineering posts), engineer GCS Grade A in wireless planning and coordination (WPC) wing/monitoring organization (MO) (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology), assistant naval store officer Grade-I (electronics & telecommunication engineering posts), Indian supply service (Junior Time Scale (JTS) Group A) (electronics and telecommunication posts), Indian telecommunication service Group A, and junior telecom officer Grade B.
To become a chief engineer in railway, you need to have a strong academic background, clear competitive exams, undergo rigorous training, and gain relevant experience.
Railway engineering is a challenging and rewarding career that requires technical skills, problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, and communication skills. If you are passionate about railways and engineering, you can pursue this career and contribute to the development of the railway sector in India.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some common questions about becoming a railway engineer in India:
Q: What is the salary of a railway engineer in India?
A: The salary of a railway engineer in India depends on various factors such as qualification, experience, post, service, zone, etc. According to Ambitionbox, the average salary of a railway engineer in India is ₹7.8 lakhs per year. However, this may vary depending on the level and grade pay of the post.
Q: What are the skills required for a railway engineer?
A: Some of the skills required for a railway engineer are:
Engineering Expertise: Possessing a thorough understanding of the principles, methods, tools, and techniques associated with railway engineering is essential. It is also important to stay updated with the latest advancements and standards in the field of railway engineering.
Analytical Abilities: The ability to pinpoint, scrutinize, and address intricate issues associated with the design, construction, operation, and upkeep of railways is crucial. Applying logical thinking and creativity to devise the best possible solutions is also necessary.
Collaboration Skills: Effective collaboration with other engineers, technicians, contractors, suppliers, and authorities involved in railway projects is key. This includes the ability to coordinate and articulate clearly with all parties involved.
Communication Skills: The ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and succinctly, both verbally and in writing, is essential. This includes the ability to create and present reports, drawings, specifications, and manuals related to railway engineering tasks.
Q: What are the challenges faced by a railway engineer?
A: Some of the challenges faced by a railway engineer are:
Ensuring Safety: Making sure that tracks, trains, and safety protocols are in top condition to prevent accidents.
Infrastructure Maintenance: Constantly maintaining the vast network of tracks, bridges, tunnels, and stations.
Project Management: Coordinating with various stakeholders, managing budgets, and meeting deadlines for large projects like constructing new tracks or stations.
Technological Implementation: Carefully implementing new technologies to improve efficiency and safety while ensuring compatibility with existing systems.
Environmental Concerns: Addressing environmental impacts, such as noise pollution, waste management, and local ecology effects.
Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring all work complies with relevant regulations and standards.
Resource Management: Managing human and material resources required for the maintenance and operation of the railway network.
Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters: Designing and maintaining infrastructure to minimize the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters and quickly restore services after disruptions.
Interoperability: Ensuring the railway network is interoperable with other modes of transportation.
Urbanization: Addressing challenges related to land acquisition, resettlement of affected populations, and integration with existing urban infrastructure in rapidly urbanizing areas.
Cost Control: Controlling costs while maintaining high standards of safety and quality.
Aging Infrastructure: Managing upgrades of old infrastructure while maintaining regular train services.