With world’s 4th largest rail network, India flags off first Railway University

Aftab Husain Kola
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India is now home to its first Railway University, the National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI), based in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Formally dedicated to the nation the university offers multi-disciplinary education, research and training with a spotlight exclusively on the transportation sector. The NRTI is specifically established to create a resource pool of best-in-class professionals for the transportation sector, especially the railways.


According to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Coal, government of India, “Indian Railways has embarked on a transformational journey through the introduction of new trains, high speed trains, dedicated freight corridors, modern stations, and other technological advancements”.

Goyal says the modernization of Indian Railways will therefore require a modern approach to employment and training.

“The NRTI will contribute to boosting the economy through skilling of manpower, fostering innovative entrepreneurship, and promoting efficiency in movement of people and goods. Additionally, it will also help contribute to other flagship programs such as Make in India, Skill India and Start Up India,” says Goyal.

Largest rail network globally

Currently the world’s seventh largest commercial employer with over 1.3 million employees, Indian Railways has emerged as the fourth largest rail network globally.

Boasting about 115,000 km of track length across about 7,500 stations, Indian Railways transports more than a billion tons of freight traffic per year and carries 8.4 billion passengers every year. Given the massive size of Indian Railways, coupled with its growth trajectory in the context of needs, a Railway University is but a necessity.

Recognized by the University Grants Commission as a ‘Deemed-to-be-University’ the National Rail and Transportation Institute will pave the way to innovation and promoting greater engagement with the academic community in Railways.

It is the first-of-its-kind university with a vision to develop a cadre of young graduates who are empowered problem-solvers with an actionable understanding of the transportation ecosystem.

The National Academy of Indian Railways palace houses the Railway University. (Supplied)
The National Academy of Indian Railways palace houses the Railway University. (Supplied)

Ashwani Lohani, the first Chancellor of the National Rail and Transportation Institute, in a statement observed, “With a vision to be world-class right from its inception, NRTI has incorporated the latest experiential teaching methodology, a holistic industry-integrated curriculum, high-quality faculty and student-centric practices that are comparable to the best around the world”.

“In a unique first, Indian Railways and associated establishments will open their facilities and infrastructure to the students and faculty of NRTI as live labs where they can learn and gain live experience. The Institute has also forged academic partnerships with some of the top global universities which will provide opportunities to the students and faculty of NRTI for exchange, joint research and learning.”

E. Sreedharan, popularly known as “Metro Man” of India, visited NRTI recently and offered his advice.

Courses for the maiden academic year

For the inaugural academic year, which commenced in September 2018, the University offers only two courses – BBA in Transportation Management which is a specialized program focused on management practices in the context of the transportation sector and BSc in Transportation Technology highlighting on technology and its application in the field of transportation.

The NRTI is focused on developing global and national partnerships with top universities and organizations from across the world. This will enable access to the latest pedagogy and program design, and prevailing transportation related domain knowledge, innovations and research developments.

NRTI has adopted an interdisciplinary approach for research of transport systems – it is bringing together academicians, scientists and engineers from various backgrounds, and plans to leverage its academic and industry partnerships and collaborations.

First batch into first semester

The first batch of 103 students from 20 states in two fully-residential undergraduate courses is already into first semester at the 55-acre lush campus which houses the Pratap Vilas Palace (Vadodara) built in 1914 AD and originally belonged to the Gaikwads of Vadodara.

The palace is home to National Academy of Indian Railways, which functions as the apex training institute for the officers of all departments of Indian Railways in general and Accounts, Personnel, Stores and Medical departments in particular. The campus resonates with the calls of peacocks and migratory birds in its verdant environs.

As part of upcoming plans it will begin the Master’s program from the 2019-20 academic year onwards. NRTI intends to have five schools offering programs across Engineering, Management, Law and Public policy, Humanities, Planning and Design domains.

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