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Indian Railways successfully concludes Assistant Loco Pilots (ALPs) and Technicians recruitment-, one of the largest such exercises in the World

The Ministry of Railways has successfully concluded, what can be called as one of the world’s largest recruitment exercise, for filling up critical safety and operational posts and has reached its completion stage. Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) invited online applications against Centralized Employment Notification (CEN) No. 01/2018 from 03.02.2018 to 31.03.2018 for a total 64,371 combined vacancies of Assistant Loco Pilots (ALPs) & Technicians. A total of 47,45,176 online applications were received. The scheme of selection consisted of 3 -stages computer based tests followed by medical examination (which is one of the stringent medical examinations considering the level of distant vision/colour vision and alertness required from a Loco Pilot) and document verification of short listed candidates. About 47.45 lakhs candidates registered for these posts.

Panel of selected candidates has been approved for 56,378 Candidates (26968 ALPs, 28410 Technicians) out of 64371 vacancies (27795 ALPs, 64371 Technicians). Appointment letters have been issued to 40,420 candidates (22223 ALPs, 18197 Technicians). Training of newly recruited 19,120 candidates (10123 Assistant Loco Pilots (ALPs), 8997 Technicians) to resume as soon as COVID lock down related measures ease out. Training process take 17 weeks for ALPs, 06 months for Technicians.

Joining Letters were issued to candidates before Lockdown but some candidates could not join due to CORONA outbreak and Lockdown.

All newly recruited employees will be given appointment in Railway as per the due procedure in a phased manner. The training of fresh appointees is required because Railway is an operational department and safety of train operations is paramount. Training includes class room training followed by field training followed by Testing of the competence before deployment on working post. Since training is given batch wise considering the capacity constraints of class room, hostel, library, instructors, etc. It has to be done in a phased manner by optimum utilization of training resources.

Due to CORONA outbreak, all form of training has been suspended to follow the social distancing norms and in order to limit the pandemics. Training will resume as and when the situation permits .

This recruitment exercise was a 3 Stage process. 1st stage Computer Based Test was successfully conducted on 11 days from 09.08.2018 to 04.09.2018 in 33 shifts at 424 centres with record attendance of nearly 77% i.e. more than 36 lakh candidates appeared in the first stage examination. 2nd stage Computer Based Test was successfully conducted for 13,00,869 (more than 13 lakh) candidates on 03 days from 21.01.2019 to 23.01.2019 in multiple shifts. Computer Based Aptitude Test (CBAT) required to assess the alertness required from a loco pilot for approximately 2,22,360 candidates was successfully conducted on 10.05.2019 and 21.05.2019.

RRBs were entrusted the responsibility for Medical examination for all posts, earlier conducted by Zonal Railways. Accordingly, Document Verification and Medical examination started from 16.06.2019 to 20.08.2019 for about 90,000 candidates (including 50% standby candidates). As already mentioned that the medical examination is one of the stringent in the industry as there is no margin of error available to a loco pilot driving a train.

Panels supplied to Zonal Railways from September 2019 to February 2020. As CBT was common to both ALP and Technician, the technician result was declared later for those who could not qualify for ALP in Computer Based Aptitude Test (CBAT).

Besides the recruitment of ALPs & technicians, Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) also invited online applications for a total 35,208 combined vacancies of Non-Technical Popular Category (NTPC – Graduate & under Graduate level) post.A total of 1,26,30,885 (i.e. more than 1.25 Crore) online applications were received.

Examination process preparation was at a advance stage during pre-Covid scenario. However, it was interrupted by outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Indian Railways is going to expedite the recruitment process as situation eases out.

In the present circumstances, new kind of challenges  need to be surmounted which were previously unexpected due to COVID pandemic. These challenges are like Candidates may have to wear face masks, which again pose challenges of tackling impersonation; mass gathering at exam centres may occur; sanitation of exam centres after each shift; number of candidates to be booked in an exam centre may have to be cutdown to enable more social distance between two candidates while enforcing the norms required for fair and smooth conduct of examination of this magnitude.

Indian Railways is  formulating a viable strategy to conduct massive examination of 1.25 crore applicants and scheduling of all the processes etc while observing all norms in Covid-19 scenario.

RRBs follow the practice of direct and instantaneous communication with candidates through regular updates on web-sites and individual SMSs and emails, whenever required. Candidates are appealed to refer to these official communications only and not be misguided by false propaganda and rumors being circulated on social media, many of which are aimed at misleading the genuine candidates and adversely affecting their preparation for examination.