The Indian Railway Traffic Service (Hindi: भारतीय रेल यातायात सेवा), abbreviated as IRTS is a Group 'A' Central Civil Service cadre of the Government of India. IRTS in its present form was reconstituted in 1967. The IRTS Cadre functions under the Administrative Control of the Ministry of Railways, Government of India. The officers of this service are responsible for administering Railway Transport in the country. On one hand, IRTS officers co-ordinate among various technical departments of the Indian Railways, while on the other hand, they form the public interface of the Indian Railways. Colloquially called Traffic Officers, they are the primary facilitators of Railway services right from Planning of freight movement, Passenger transport, Passenger amenities to Station Management and Infrastructure Planning.
Traffic Department is responsible for optimum utilization of Railway assets and their seamless integration to provide a swift and safe transportation service and consequent realization of revenues in-line with the social obligations of the Indian Railways.
Traffic Department comprises two branches:
There are two modes of recruitment to IRTS Group ‘A’ :
- 50% through direct recruitment through the annual Civil Services Examination conducted by UPSC.
- 50% through promotion from Group B officers of Operating and Commercial departments of the Zonal Railways.
Current cadre strength of IRTS officers is around 900, serving in 68 divisions across 17 Zonal Railways in India and the Railway Board
Role and function
The role of an IRTS officer in the Operations Department is that of ensuring efficient, safe and user friendly transportation of freight and passengers. He/She ensures optimum utilization of railway's assets by maximizing output with available inputs. This is achieved by coordinating with the service departments looking after various assets of railways like track, wagons, engines, signals, etc. He/She combines the outputs of the various departments maintaining the assets – rolling stock and fixed infrastructure to produce a service output – passenger or freight transport. This is done through the Control Office, which is said to be the nerve centre of Railways, under the direct superintendence of IRTS officers posted in Operations Department.
In the Commercial Department, an IRTS officer is responsible for revenue realization for various services offered by Indian Railways. The commercial department reviews past sales and profit performance; assess the potential of the railways for improved performance and traffic growth, relative to competitors; develop a programme of action to achieve projected growth in traffic; define or re-define marketing objectives; specify sales, pricing and promotional strategies to increase traffic; and establish methods and systems to monitor performance. The department is also concerned with provisioning of passenger amenities and redressal of customer complaints. Various passenger amenities in Railway Stations and Trains, like catering, stalls on the Railway Stations, services in trains and stations etc. come under the superintendence of IRTS Officers working in the Commercial Department.
Being the first point of contact with the Rail users they are the agents of change in the Railway system by conveying user expectations. The information technology requirement of passenger ticketing and freight realization is also managed by IRTS officers in the zonal headquarters in association with the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
The role changes depending on where an officer is placed in the organization –
- Division (Operational level) - Real action in terms of implementation of policies occur here
- Zone (Tactical level) - Collation of Data, chasing of targets
- Railway Board (Strategic level) - Policy making and National Priorities of Railways vis-a-vis industries and other modes of transport
IRTS officers go for Deputation in various ministries of Government of India. They are particularly sought after for their exceptional work ethic and result oriented functioning. IRTS officers are also preferred in projects related to infrastructure and marshaling of technical resources.
The opening up of Indian economy has brought a paradigm shift in the role of IRTS officers – from rail transport to logistics. They have been instrumental in raising the earnings of Indian Railways through efficient freight movement and improved passenger transport which are conducted 24x7 non-stop.