Born in 1940, Vinaya Kumar Agnihotri acquired his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering and Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering from the erstwhile University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) in 1960 and 1962, respectively, in first rank. Agnihotri qualified in the all-India competition for Central Engineering Services held in 1961 and joined Indian Railway Service of Engineers in 1962. During 38 years of service with Indian Railways he was assigned many challenging jobs of technical, managerial and administrative nature. He took training in railway track maintenance in France, which he later implemented on Indian Railways. He also received training in real time computer programming in USA.
Agnihotri had a long stint of 10 years from 1971 to 1981 with Research, Design and Standards Organisation of Indian Railways in Lucknow where he was responsible for design and manufacture of state-of-the-art minicomputer-based track recording-cum-research car in 1974 with capability of real time digital data acquisition and processing to direct track maintenance.
He was the overall administrative in-charge of Indian Railways at various levels-Divisional Railway Manager, General Manager and finally Member Engineering and Ex-Officio Secretary to Government of India. In that capacity he coordinated the working of civil engineering discipline of the entire Indian Railways covering about 63,000 route km. This included operation, maintenance, new construction and future planning of railway infrastructure.
During his tenure as Member Engineering, Railway Board, Agnihotri got the following facilities for IIT Roorkee where he studied:
- Attachment of AC 2-tier bogie in Lucknow-Saharanpur Express on request of then vice chancellor of University of Roorkee.
- Stoppage of Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express at Roorkee.
- Computerised railway booking office in IIT Roorkee, first such facility in an educational institution in India.
- Two Railway Professorial Chairs, one for bridges and other for rail wheel interaction. These were the first Chairs created by Railways. Agnihotri is still associated with these Chairs.
Post-retirement, Agnihotri, in his capacity as a consultant, is helping Indian Railways. Recently, he was associated with consultancy of the dedicated freight corridor between Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and Khurja, Odisha.