Exclusive Interview with Mr. S.S.Khurana, Ex Chairman Railway Board on his Journey in Indian Railways

Mr. S.S.Khurana

Ex Chairman Railway Board

” Mr S S Khurana has a blend of 38 years of strong Administrative, Corporate, Managerial and Technical experience in various key positions of Indian Railways such as Chairman, Railway Board and Ex officio Principal Secretary to the Government of India, Member Staff, Railway Board, Chairman of IRCON International Ltd., Chairman of Dedicated Freight Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL), General Manager of Eastern Railway and East Coast Railway. He has managed the Indian Railways at the apex level . Work on Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL) was launched under his guidance. ” 

Rail Analysis : Please tell our readers about your journey in Indian Railways and how did you start?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : I graduated from University of Roorkee, now IIT Roorkee, in the year 1971. I entered IR through UPSC Engineering Services Examination, 1971. I was allotted NF Railway and was posted as AEE in diesel loco shed at Siliguri and thereafter as DEE in New Bongaigaon C&W workshop. In the year 1981, I was posted as Sr DEE in electric loco shed at Ghaziabad. Later in the year 1984. I was transferred to RDSO as Joint Director dealing with the design, development and standardization of Electric locomotives.

In the year 1991. I was placed in the administrative post of ADRM at Dhanbad being the prestigious and one of the most challenging and highest loading divisions of IR. I continued at Dhanbad for more than 4 years. Later I handled the job of Railway Electrification in the capacity of CEE and CPM/RE at Ambala. Projects of electrification of Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar and Ambala-Saharanpur-Moradabad were progressed substantially during my tenure before I was elevated as DRM at Adra division of SER in the year 1998. ADRA division is one of the primary coal loading divisions of IR. It was a very satisfying experience in the various facets of Railway working as well as coordination with all the stake holders.

In the year 2000, I was moved to NR as CEE/Loco looking after the operation and maintenance of electric locomotives on NR. After working for 2 years in NR, I was placed as SDGM in the year 2002 and then as Principal CEE at CORE Allahabad looking after the Electrification projects of IR spread over the length and breadth of the country.

Having worked at Allahabad for 3 years I was posted as AGM NFR for a short period of six months when I was promoted to the prestigious position of GM ER at KOLKATA from where I was laterally moved as GM ECOAR in the year 2006. I was then posted as Member Staff in Railway Board in the year 2007 and finally elevated to the Apex position of Chairman Railway Board in Feb 2009 and superannuated in May 2010 thus completing a long, challenging and satisfying career of 38 years in Indian Railways for which I shall remain grateful to my seniors and my fellow Railway men for their mentoring and support respectively.

Rail Analysis : What was your most challenging project as Chairman of Railway Board?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : “ There are always many projects to deal with but the most challenging in my opinion was the setting up of Electric loco factory at Madhepura and Diesel loco factory at Marhowra. ”

These factories were envisaged as big-ticket projects to be awarded as EPC contracts on Public Private Partnership basis with guaranteed offtake of these locomotives spread over a period of 10 years. RFP and RFQ were drafted and the approvals of Cabinet were obtained during my tenure. Later due to multifarious reasons these projects ran in to rough waters and got delayed before finally taking off and start producing state of the art electric and diesel locomotives by global stalwarts ALSTOM and GE respectively.

Rail Analysis : What was your biggest achievement while you were in office?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : While it is very difficult to recall some achievement which I considered as the biggest achievement. I consider that the Mentoring the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project was one of the big achievements. was in the infancy stage and all the organizational and technical foundations were being laid brick by brick. It was also the Ex officio MD of the project. Parleys with JICA, Government of JAPAN and World Bank were going on to crystallize the various requirements and the funds required for the project which were successfully carried out. The technical parameters of the axle load, type of the track structure, the sub structure, the axle load for bridges and the type of wagons and bogies to be used, type of signaling and that their shall be no level crossings in the detour alignment of the DFCCIL were all unanimously decided by the Railway Board under my chairmanship.

Rail Analysis : Kindly tell our readers about your retirement life?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : My Retired life: – I retired in May 2010, that was a long time ago but I have led a full and satisfied retired life so to me it looks like only yesterday and I am still keeping in touch to the extent feasible.

After retirement I worked as MD of Indian Railway Welfare Organization which is a Society under the Societies act 1860 entrusted with building houses for Railway men on self financing and ownership basis.

The projects of IRWO are scattered all over India. I also was on the Board of Directors of NALCO and Food Corporation of India. Presently I am on the Board of Directors of Surya Roshni Ltd. I also completed my L.L.B. degree post retirement and registered as an Advocate with the Delhi Bar Council. I am also doing some arbitration and Dispute adjudications.

Rail Analysis : What was your experience at Rail Analysis Awards event?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : I am thankful to Shri Ashok Goyal of Rail Analysis who was kind enough to remember and invite me in the last award event. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of prestigious event where all the stake holders of Railways and Metro Rail had gathered to share their experience in their respective fields. I was happy to meet and interact with the stalwarts in Industry and my colleagues from IR. It wasa very inspiring and encouraging event organized by Rail Analysis.

Rail Analysis : Do you think the high speed trains and the freight corridors, can be the game changers in the Indian Railway Industry, If yes, how ?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : These are certainly the game changers in the Indian Railway Industry. The technologies associated with high speed are entirely new for Indian industry and they will have to adopt this technology by collaborating with their foreign counter parts to transfer the technology and start manufacturing in India. It is a huge opportunity for the industry as they will be able to export it in the future. Same is true for the freight Corridors which have brought in the 2×25 KV technology associated with modern signaling. The track laying by track machines has been done on this scale for the first time. New type of locomotives and wagons are being introduced which will require the Indian railway Industry to rise and adopt new lines of manufacturing.

Rail Analysis : Having worked as the Chairman of Railway Board, what was your role in Railways then and what is the role now ?

Mr. S.S.Khurana : My role as Chairman was as that of the CEO of a big enterprise as well as that of secretary to GOI for the department of IR. Railways are a business or commercial entity as well as a govt department answerable to the Parliament. In that capacity I had to pay attention to the social objectives towards the masses of India for whom the railways are the means of transport and must be kept within their means. At times balancing the two conflicting objectives is a challenging task.

In addition, CRB is the leader of the massive team of 13 lakh railway men who are to be kept inspired and motivated to deliver 24×7 Rail transport service.

My role now is like an elder railwayman who takes pride in the continuing achievements of the IR. I keep in touch with the new developments and achievements through newspapers, websites, friends, seminars and other events.

I am also coordinating a ‘THINK TANK’ on Railways under the aegis of Surya Foundation. This think tank is consisting of eminent railwaymen like retired chairmen, members of Railway Board and GMs. It periodically sends its recommendations to the PMO and MR.

This interview is a part of our June 2019 Edition Magazine. If you would like a Print Copy , Click Here to subscribe .