Track maintenance on Indian Railways is a well-organized affair as described below.
18.8.1 Organization at the Headquarters
The primary duty of maintaining the track lies with the civil engineering branch headed by the principal chief engineer stationed at the head quarters of each zonal railway. He is assisted by a number of functional chief engineers such as the chief track engineer (CTE), the chief bridge engineer (CBE), the chief engineer planning and design (CPDE), and the chief engineer general (CGE). Normally, one functional chief engineer is in charge of one division or more and supervises the work of that division in all civil engineering matters. Each chief engineer is assisted by deputy chief engineers, executive engineers, etc., who are responsible for planning, designing, and providing the necessary materials along with providing any other assistance that may be required by the field engineers.
18.8.2 Organization at the Divisions
The direct responsibility of the maintenance of civil engineering assets, including the track, lies with the division. In each division, there are one or more divisional superintending engineers (DSE) or senior divisional engineers (sr DEN) who work under the administrative control of the divisional railway manager and the technical control of the chief engineer. Figure 18.3 gives the details of the divisional organization for track maintenance.
Fig. 18.3 Divisional organization for track maintenance
Each divisional superintending engineer (DSE) or senior divisional engineer has complete charge of a division. He or she is assisted by two to three divisional engineers (DENs), each with about 1000 integrated track kilometres under his or her charge. Every DEN is assisted by two to three assistant engineers (AENs), each in charge of about 400 kilometres of track. An AEN in turn is aided by two to three permanent way inspectors, who are directly responsible for the safety and maintenance of the track. Each AEN is also assisted by one or more inspector of works (IOW) who look after all the work. The track maintenance work is done by various gangs, each of which is headed by a mate who has about 10 to 20 gangmen working under him or her. Each gang has a keyman, who inspects the track daily to ensure its safety. The duties of AENs, PWIs, and other permanent way officials are explained briefly in the subsequent sections.
18.8.3 Duties of Permanent Way Officials
The permanent way officials in charge of maintaining the track have to ensure that the finest standards of track maintenance are followed as per the prescribed procedures at the minimum cost. The duties of all PW officials have, therefore, been specified so that they can work systematically to achieve the desired objectives. This chapter only outlines the essential duties of PW officials. In actual practice, however, they have to carry out many more miscellaneous functions as per the traditions and practices of Indian Railways.
18.8.4 Duties of Assistant Engineer
The assistant engineer is generally responsible for the maintenance and safety of all way and works under his or her charge, for the accuracy, quality, and progress of any new work that may be undertaken and for controlling all expenditure with respect to the budget allotment.
The essential duties of an AEN are as follows.
(a) Inspection and maintenance of track and all track structures to ensure satisfactory and safe performance
(b) Preparation of plans and estimates; execution and assessment of work
(c) Verification of stores held by stockholders
(d) Submission of proposals for inclusion in the track renewal programme, estimates of revenue budget, and work programme
An AEN is also required to carry out the following inspections.
Trolley inspection The entire subdivision should be inspected once a month by assistant engineer, as far as possible with the help of a push trolley. This inspection should be intensive and should include the checking of gang attendance, the work done by the gang, the equipment used, and an examination of gang charts/diaries with reference to the prescribed track maintenance schedule. During the inspection, the assistant engineer should check the work done by one or two gangs under each PWI and record his or her observations.
Fast train inspection Either the foot plate of the engine or the last vehicle of a fast train should traverse the entire length of the subdivision once a month.
Inspection of level crossings The assistant engineer should inspect all manned level crossings once every six months. He or she should examine the gatemen’s knowledge of the rules and check the equipment, track, road approaches, and all other safety aspects of each crossing.
Checking of curves The AEN should verify the versine and superelevation of at least one curve under the jurisdiction of every PWI every quarter.
Checking of points and crossings Once a year the AEN should inspect all the points and crossings on passenger lines and 10% of the points and crossings on other lines.
Monsoon patrolling During monsoon patrolling, the assistant engineer should use either a train, push trolley, or motor trolley once every month to check the patrolman’s work.
Scrutinizing of registers during inspection The AEN should scrutinize the various registers maintained by the PWI such as the creep register, curve register, and the points and crossings register.
Inspection of bridges The AEN should inspect all the bridges of his or her subdivision once every year after the monsoon is over and record the inspection details in the bridge register. Tracks on girder bridges should also be inspected as part of the annual bridge inspection.
Inspection of office and stores The AEN should inspect each office and store of all the PWIs and IOWs under his or her charge at least once a year. When checking stores, he or she should pay particular attention to the allocation of the imprest engineering indicators, protection equipments, and other important items in the stores.
An AEN also has the following additional duties.
(a) To ensure that all work is done as per the standard plans and specifications.
(b) To witness the payments made under one inspector once every month.
(c) To record the measurements of the ballast or to carry out a thorough check of its quality and quantity if the same has already been recorded by an inspector. Also, to test check the measurements of other works.
(d) To reach an accident site as early as possible and to take the necessary measures to restore traffic on the affected track.
(e) To accompany any track recording or oscillograph car runs in his or her section.
(f) To exercise control on expenditure so as to contain it within the alloted budget.
(g) To train probationers in their work.
(h) To inspect water purification systems once every three months.
(i) To inspect all steel structures once every six months.
(j) To look after the welfare of the staff and to inculcate discipline in them.
(k) To accompany the GM or other senior railway officials during inspection.
(l) To coordinate with officials of other departments.
18.8.5 Duties of a PWI in Overall Charge
The PWI is generally responsible for the following.
(a) Maintenance and inspection of the track to ensure satisfactory and safe performance.
(b) Efficient execution of all works incidental to track maintenance, including track relaying work.
(c) Accounts and periodical verification of the stores and tools in his or her charge.
(d) Maintenance of land boundaries between stations and at important stations as may be specified by the administration.
The PWI also carries out inspections of the following facets of a track.
Testing the track He or she should run a test check on the foot plate of the engine of fast trains at least twice a month and in a rear brake van of a fast vehicle once a month, and make a note of sections where the quality of running is defective and get them rectified.
Inspection of track and gangs The PWI should inspect the entire section with the help of a push trolley at least once a week or more often if necessary.
Level crossing inspection
(a) He or she should check the equipment assigned to the gateman once a month.
(b) He or she should periodically examine knowledge of safety rules.
(c) He or she should ensure that all level crossings are safe.
Points and crossings inspection The PWI should inspect the points and crossings on passenger lines once in three months and those on other lines once in six months.
Curve inspection The PWI should check the versines and superelevation of each curve once in six months. Based on his or her observations, the PWI should take the appropriate action to correct the curve, if necessary.
Inspection diagram The PWI should maintain an inspection diagram of all inspections carried out during the month as per the schedule laid down in the pro forma and submit the same every month to the divisional engineer via the AEN, bringing out the reasons for failure in adhering to the schedules of inspections, if any.
Safety of track The PWI is directly responsible for the safety of the track. He or she should be vigilant so as to promptly locate faults in the permanent way and get them repaired without delay.
In addition to the inspections, a PWI also carries out the following duties.
(a) To accompany high officials during their inspections along with the relevant records. The PWI should carry all the important measuring equipment such as the gauge-cum-level, flange gauges, fishing chord, tape, and inspection hammer on these inspections.
(b) To accompany any track recording and oscillograph car that runs in his or her section.
(c) To check the proximity of trees that are likely to damage the track and get them removed.
(d) To check night patrolling at least once a month by train as well as by trolley.
(e) To take the necessary safety measures while executing maintenance work that affects the safety of the track.
(f) To rush to the site of an accident and take the necessary measures to safeguard the line and restore traffic.
(g) To periodically inspect and supervise LWR tracks to ensure their safety.
(h) To ensure the cleanliness of station yards.
(i) To keep proper records of the training out of ballast.
(j) To witness the payments made out to the staff every month.
(k) To look after all establishment work, including the welfare of the staff working under his charge, and to maintain their service records.
(l) To ensure the safety of the track during the execution of work that affects the track.
Based on the system of maintenance, the permanent way inspector in charge of the section should prepare detailed short-term plans covering a month’s work (split into weekly programs) at least a month in advance of the commencement of actual work. The PWI should ensure that adequate arrangements have been made for the requisite tools, materials, and manpower for the allotted task and that work is executed within the specified time. The following procedure of track maintenance is followed on Indian Railways.
(a) Each mate should be supplied with a gang chart and a gang register. The gang chart should have a record of the day-to-day track maintenance work to be done over the gang length, maintained by the permanent way inspector (PWI) according to specified instructions. The gang registers contain a record of the weekly programme of the work to be carried out, also maintained entered by the PWI in charge of the section. At the end of the week, the PWI should qualitatively and quantitatively assess the completed work and record
his/her observations in the gang register after a detailed inspection of the work done during the previous week.
(b) Gang charts or gang registers should be checked by the assistant engineer and divisional engineer during their inspections. After inspecting the section by trolley, they should record their observations in the gang register.
(c) On withdrawal of old gang charts or gang registers and supply of fresh ones, the PWI should carefully analyse the work done and make a note of those stretches of the track that frequently gave trouble during the year, with a view to formulate such special measures as may be necessary.
18.8.6 Duties of Mates
Every mate should make sure that the length of line under his charge is kept safe for the passage of trains. Sections needing urgent attention should be taken care of without waiting for orders from PWIs.
Working of permanent way gangs
The track on Indian Railways is mostly maintained by permanent way gangs. Each permanent way gang has a strength of about 10-20 people and a beat of about 610 km. The gangs normally follow the annual programme set for regular track maintenance and complete at least one round of through packing in a year, depending on various circumstances. A gang works under the control of a mate who assigns track maintenance works to the permanent way gangmen.
Tools used by a PW gang Each gang should have the following maintenance tools and equipment. Worn out tools and equipment should be replaced every month.
(b) One set of red hand-signal flags, two hand-signal lamps for the nights, and 12 detonators
(c) 30-cm-long steel scale, 1-m-long straight edge, square, hemp, cord, and marking chalk
(d) Wooden mallet or canne-a-boule, fish bolt spanner, keying and spiking hammer, and measured shovel packing (MSP) equipment if MSP is required
(e) A sufficient number of shovels, phowrahs, beaters, crowbars, ballast forks or rakes, and mortar pans or baskets
Knowledge of safety measures The permanent way mistry (PWM) mate and all other gang men should have complete knowledge of the following safety measures.
(a) Method of protecting the line in an emergency or during maintenance work that affects the running of trains, including methods of fixing detonators, banner flags, etc.
(b) Displaying the obligatory signals with or without a hand-signal flag during the day and with a hand-signal lamp during the night.
(c) Action to be taken when a train is noticed to have parted.
(d) Patrolling of lines on LWR tracks during heavy rains, storms, sandstorms, and during hot weather.
(e) Awareness of ‘safety first’ rules.
Gang strength for track maintenance
A track is maintained manually by gangmen. Each gang has about 10 to 20 persons and a jurisdiction of about 4 to 6 km. In order to ensure uniformity of practice, Indian Railways has prescribed a standard formula known as the special committee formula for calculating the number of men to be included in each gang.
N=MKE = MKLU(1 + A + B + C)
where N is the number of men per km, M is the manpower factor, K is the correction factor due to modernization of track, standard of maintenance, etc., E is the number of equated track kilometres (ETKM) and is equal to L x U(1 + A + B + C), A, B, and C are variable factors, L is the length of a single track, and U is the traffic density that varies from 0.4 to 1.4 depending upon whether the section is a siding or a busy section with heavy gradients.
The manpower factor M is the weightage for the actual man-days required to carry out normal permanent way maintenance work in a year vis-a-vis the actual number of man-days available. The correction factor K is required as a result of the modernization of the track. It has been felt that the effort required to maintain short welded rails and long welded rails is much less as compared to a fish-plated track.
The variable factors, A, B, and C denote the following. A is the formation factor, which varies from 0 to 0.20 depending upon the type of soil, B is the alignment factor and is equal to 0 where the track is straight and 0.25 when the entire track is on a curve, and C is the rainfall factor and varies from 0.10 to 0.20 depending upon whether there is little or heavy rainfall.
18.8.7 Duties of Keymen
Once a day, the keyman should inspect both the track and the bridges on his/her beat. He should go along one rail on his outward journey and return along the opposite rail on his return journey.
18.8.8 Knowledge of Rules and Signals
Every mate, keyman, and gangman should have the correct knowledge of handling detonating signals and should be conversant with the following measures of track maintenance.
(a) Protecting the line in an emergency and during the execution of maintenance work
(b) Action to be taken when a train is noticed to have parted
(c) Knowledge of ‘safety first’ rules
(d) Action to be taken when sabotage is suspected
(e) Patrolling during emergencies