The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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B-school to put railway on fast track

The headquarters may have shifted out of Calcutta, but for success strategies, the Southeast Central Railway has come right back to rope in the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC).

From improving customer interaction of the railway employees to maximising efficiency in internal processes, the premier B-school will help the fledgling zone, that employs over 50,000 people and covers 2,400 km of rail tracks. IIMC professors Ranjan Ghosh and S.D. Vaidya have already conducted two workshops in Bilaspur to put the project on the rails.

“The Indian Railways have evolved historically. There are lots of inherent checks and balances in the system and, at times, these come in the way of efficiency improvement in our internal process. We are taking help from IIMC to re-engineer our business processes and maximise efficiency in our operations,” says Pramod Kumar, general manager, Southeast Central Railways.

Though the railways have at times taken the help of premier IIMs in training officials and organised management development programmes, the IIMC’s association with Southeast Central Railways is “unique”, as the tie-up will be a continuous one and stretch beyond theoretical classroom sessions. “We want to leverage the institute’s expertise in our day-to-day operations,” explains Kumar.

The professor duo from Joka will conduct regular workshops covering various issues — like procurement, customer interaction, human resources development, planning for cargo movement — and then the respective departmental heads will submit reports comparing present processes and the proposed ones. The employees will formulate the new initiatives under IIMC guidance.

“For maximum results, one needs to involve the people who will execute it at the ground level. Freight movement, including coal, cement and a number of mineral ores in the zone, is the highest in the country. But it’s slow and there is a scope for optimising wagon movement and track utilisation by using operations research techniques. This will save them from incurring new capital expenditure,” explains Prof Ghosh, who, along with Vaidya, is providing “both consultancy and training” to the railway personnel.

Kumar is confident that the IIMC tie-up will yield “desired results” by reducing delays in areas like filling up vacancies — that now takes around three years — procuring wagons and other moving stocks and improving communication with customers. “If we are successful, this will surely set a new trend,” sums up Kumar.

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