Indian Railways has successfully completed one of the “world’s largest recruitment exercises” — a record number of 47.45 lakh candidates have applied to fill up 64,371 vacancies on critical safety and operational posts, the national transporter said today. The railways released the recruitment notifications for 64,371 Assistant Loco Pilots and technician posts in 2018. More than 47 crore candidates have applied for these posts, making it one of the largest recruitment exercise.

The railway panel has selected 56,378 candidates. Out of them 26,968 are for Assistant Loco Pilots and 28,410 candidate will be for the post of technicians. The Railway Recruitment Boards have issued appointment letters to 40,420 candidates. The training of them will start as soon as COVID-19 lockdown rules ease, the ministry said in a statement today. Training includes class room training followed by field training followed by testing of the competence before deployment on working post, the railways board said today. In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, all forms of training have been suspended.

This recruitment exercise was a three stage process. Computer Based Test (CBT) for the posts of Assistant Loco Pilots was conducted in 33 shifts for 11 days August 9 to September 4, 2018 at 440 test centers in 166 cities across India. they recorded the highest number of attendance of about 36.42 lakh candidates. The second stage CBT for this recruitment was conducted from January 21, 2019 to January 23, 2019 in nine shifts. The attendance was about 88%, it said. Computer Based Aptitude Test (CBAT) for approximately 2,22,360 candidates was completed between May 10 to May 21, 2019, the ministry said.

Besides the recruitment of Assistant Loco Pilots and technicians, Railway Recruitment Boards have also invited online applications for 35,208 vacancies of Non-Technical Popular Category (NTPC – Graduate & under Graduate level) post. More than 1.25 crore online applications have been received.

The examination process have been interrupted in the wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country. Indian Railways is planning a new 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.

“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 examination centres after each shift; number of candidates to be booked in an exam centre may have to be cut down to enable more social distance between two candidates while enforcing the norms required for fair and smooth conduct of examination of this magnitude.” the ministry said in a statement.

The recruitment board of Indian Railways will communicate the latest updates via direct messages and emails. The candidates are requested to not be misguided by false propaganda and rumors being circulated on social media, the national transporter said.