BY 'A learned probationer'

After completing more than half of my probation, I have put my experience into some use to prepare a comprehensive guide to a successful and happy probation.


This is probably the single most pain in the you-know-where. There is apparently an acute shortage of rest houses and probationers being the juniormost in the hierarchy get the last priority. So, make prior bookings. Better still, try to locate relatives at your places of training (or best, locate your training where you have relatives)


Remember, you spend a substantial chunk of your time walking between Rly. stations and rest houses. So, travel light and take what you can carry.

Card Pass

The most valuable asset one could to hope to acquire is the card pass. So, guard it with your life and use it judiciously.

Daily Allowance

The gift of Vth CPC to the probationers and its tax-free too.

EQ (Emergency Quota)

To avoid going through the ritual of applying for EQ followed by an agonising wait and then travelling three persons to one berth, get your reservations done 60 days in advance. After all, that’s what the DCP is for.

Friendly Co-passenger

By the time you are a couple of months into your probation, you will be an expert in dealing with them. "No uncle, I am not a student. Actually, I’m in the Railways", " Yes auntie, I am a Bengali", "I belong to Delhi, boss", "I joined railways right after school" and so on. I have grown sick of satisfying the curiosity of well-intentioned friendly co-passengers.


This is one place you are surely going to miss during your probation. The night mess, the pail sessions and luxuries like a bearer, a regular dhobi are but some of the things probationers have to make do without.


The mantra for effective learning is ‘collect hand-outs’ for anything and everything. Not only will you get concise information but will also have a ready-reference for the future.

Indian Railways

Our paymaster. Need I say more ---


While you are at your probation, don’t forget to pick up some railway lingo and technical jargon. A discussion about ‘speed restrictions in ghat sections’ or ‘merits of containerization’ never fails to impress outsiders.


Keep in mind the ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ philosophy of Peters & Waterman (of ‘In search of excellence’ fame) while facing exams and interviews. Avoid smart answers and you will sail through.

Land of Diversity

That is, India. Probation is the time to discover the myriad colours of our beautiful motherland. Don’t leave any nook of the country unvisited.


The best way to spend your lonely evenings in far-off places. (Unless of course, you have other pressing engagements)

Notes (Currency)

The more the merrier. Get a credit card if you don’t like bulky wallets and want to avoid a pain in the neck.

OSD (Trg.)

He is the most important person for the 18 months of probation. Never cross paths with him.

Privilege Pass

It is a non-renewable resource. So, get one issued only when it becomes unavoidable. Don’t take out passes like ‘JMP to NDLS’. Instead, use the same ˝ set pass for meeting the requirements of a typical three-month training programme eg. Use the same pass to travel from 1)KGP to HWH, 2)HWH to JMP, 3)JMP to MGS, 4)MGS to LKO, 5)LKO to NDLS and 6)NDLS to UMB.

Quality Policy

kam seekho, lekin jitna seekho dhaang se seekho’

Release Letter

It is this sheet of paper that is responsible for the paycheck at the end of every month. Treat this with due respect.


Should be a must-do in your itinerary. Get yourself invited over to Sams’ places. Would be a welcome change from the dreary rest-house food.

Training Programme

The difference between a miserable and a happy probation. Judge for yourself:

Programme 1: JMP ® 1 week at MGS - 4 weeks at RDSO - 2 at TKD – 1 at NDLS – 1 at UMB.

Programme 2: JMP ® 1 week at SRC - 1 week at Nimpura –3 weeks at KGP - 2 weeks at BNDM – 1 week at Barwadih – 1 at Patratu.

‘United you stand, Divided you fall’

Stand by your fellow probationers. You may need others’ support tomorrow.

Voracious reader

Yes, that’s what you should be if you do not want to die of boredom crisscrossing the country every few weeks. Believe me, a 36-hour train journey can test the patience of coolest of guys.


If you want to have a long honeymoon visiting exotic places, get married as more and more of my batchmates are doing.

Xerox Machine

Use it frequently. Keep copies of everything – release letters, TA/DA bill, Trg. Programmes.


What should be most important to you is ‘yourself’. If you don’t look after yourself, no one else will. Becomes especially important when you stay 2 weeks at Waltair, followed by 4 at Chennai and then go to DLW for 5 weeks.

Zone allotment

The most contentious of all issues, it is foremost on everyone’s mind for a better part of probation

The most important gospel for probationary training, I have saved for the last. Always remember – " NO ONE HAS EVER DIED OF HARD WORK, BUT WHY TAKE A CHANCE"

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