RDSO Shift? Railways examining proposal to shift Research function of Lucknow-based RDSO to National Rail University

NEW DELHI: The Railways is considering a proposal to shift the research function of Lucknow-based Railway Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) to the new National Rail and Transport University that is coming up in Vadodara. “This will pave the way for joint research by railways, industry and academia, as it happens in many countries across the world,” according to a Railway Ministry official.

At present, RDSO has multiple roles that include research, setting standards, and approving vendors. To enforce standardisation and co-ordination amongst various railway systems, the Indian Railway Conference Association(IRCA) was set up in 1903, followed by the Central Standards Office (CSO) in 1930, for preparation of designs, standards and specifications. However, till independence, most of the designs and manufacture of railway equipments was entrusted to foreign consultants. With Independence and the resultant phenomenal increase in country’s industrial and economic activity, which increased the demand of rail transportation – a new organisation called Railway Testing and Research Centre (RTRC) was initially setup in 1952 at Lucknow. Laterally the Government had decided to integrate Central Standards Office (CSO) and the Railway Testing and Research Centre (RTRC) into a single unit duly naming the then newly created entity as “Research Designs and Standards Organisation” (RDSO) in 1957, under Ministry of Railways at Lucknow. The status of RDSO has been changed from an ’Attached Office’ to ’Zonal Railway’ since 01.01.2003.

The move comes at a time when RDSO is being revamped with several of its functions digitised. To ensure greater transparency, all pending applications in RDSO have also been put online since last more than 3 years, the official added.  This will widen the scope for newer vendors/industry/academicia.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the Ministry of Railways’ transformative initiative to set up the first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara to skill its human resources and build capability not only in various Railway Engineering disciplines, but also offers MBA (Railway Management). The program curriculum for all courses lays 70% weightage on general management and 30% on sector specific topics. The MBA (Railway Management) program is committed to provide an experience that is tailored to the needs of Railway Sector.

NRTU starting to function as an APEX national institution for human resource development in the Railways and Transportation Sector and presently Railway Board is now in the process of creating a Governing Body of NRTU. There is a proposal to operate a dedicated NRTU Campuses at IRISET/Secunderabad and RDSO/Lucknow too.

Government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018, and to launch the first academic program in July 2018, said an official release.

The University will be set up as a Deemed to be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016. A not-for-profit company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 will be created by the Ministry of Railways which shall be the Managing Company of the proposed university. The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university. Board of Management, comprising professionals and academicia shall be independent of the managing organization with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.

The existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways at Vadodara, Gujarat will be utilised and modernised for the purpose of the university. It is expected to have 5000 full time students to start with. The funding of the new university will entirely come from Ministry of Railways.

The NRTU Campus shall also be having the University Library System, Computing and Internet facilities, Hostels, Sports Facilities, University Centre for Competitive Examinations, University Health Centre, National Service Scheme, SC/ST Cell, Foreign Students’ Cell, Career Counseling and Placement Cell, Students’ Welfare Services, Scholarships/Stipends/Prizes/Financial Assistance to Meritorious/needy Students. Railway Ministry is about to float a Notification for recruitment of Vice Chancellor (or the Director General), Registrar, Dean and other Faculty in different streams for the newly formed NRTU.

The following courses are being outlined to be introduced at the National Rail and Transportation University initially.

  • 2-Year MBA in Rail Management
  • 2-Year MBA in Railway Finances Management
  • 4-Year B.E. /B. Tech. (specialization in Railway Engineering)
  • P.G. Diploma in Railway Workshop Management and Engineering
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Electrical and Traction Engineering, Transmission & Distribution Systems
  • Post Graduate Diploma in various other steams viz. Mechanical, Civil Engineering, Electrical, Signal & Telecom, Information Technology, Design and Development.
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Railway Workshop Management.
  • 6-Months Post Graduate Certificate Course in GIS & Remote Sensing Applications (in collaboration with ISRO and Industry bodies)
  • 6-Months Post Graduate Certificate Course in Traffic Commercial and Traffic Transportation.
  • 6-Months Certificate Course in Advertisement, Publicity and Media Management in Railway Operations.
  • Training & Seminars
  • Executive Development Programs
  • Skill Development for Supervisors & Technicians
  • In-company Training Programs
  • Top Management Seminars
  • Training of Trainers
  • Research & Publications, Applied Research / Visionary Papers, Industry based Case Studies, Development of Study Materials, Computer Based Training Packages.

The NRTU Pedagogy shall comprise of the dedicated Class room lectures, seminars, case studies, group discussions, role plays, group works, summer project at organizations related to Railway businesses to impart knowledge and skills to the students. In addition, visits to Railway Stations, Railway Workshops, Railway PSUs, Zonal Railway Systems, Railway Institutes, Railway Manufacturers’ (OEMs) like Bombardier, Medha Servodrives, Alstom, Thales, Hitachi, Mitsubishi etc., shall be organized to ensure that the students have the real ‘feel’ of the gigantic Railway Sector. Apart from the above, so as to bring in the Next Generation Technology into the IOT based Rail Operations including Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Machine Learining, NRTU shall be collaborating with global IT majors like Google, Cisco, IBM, Apple, Siemens, Cater Pillar, Microsoft to integrate social, mobility, analytics, cloud in realtime automation apart from seeking collaboration from internal entities like CRIS, RailTel etc.

National Rail and Transport University shall also be establishing a Permanent University Chair for the veteran industry giants, going forward.