The duties allotted to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) are usually limited to protection of railway property, and the prosecution of offenders on the rail networks. But since January this year, they have donned the role of watchmen, guarding not only the railway premises, but the lives of its passengers. 78 RPF personnel have been deployed at accident-prone spots on the Western Railway (WR) line to keep vigil on commuters and prevent accidents. Their efforts have yielded some fruit. The number of accidents on the WR line has been significantly lower, in comparison to the corresponding months of January-April last year.
WR officials have identified 87 spots where the incidence of accidents has been high and deployed the 78 RPF personnel at nine of the most dangerous locations — Dadar, Khar, Jogeshwari, Kandivli, Borivli, Nallasopara, Bhayandar, Vasai and Virar. “Due to lack of staff we couldn’t place our men at all 87 points, but we have identified key areas and have initially placed men at nine of these spots. The results have been positive, and we will be placing RPF personnel at the remaining 78 spots soon,” said a senior RPF official, on condition of anonymity.
“Foot-over-bridges are used by over 34 lakh commuters daily. Sometimes when trains simultaneously enter the station, a stampede ensues. Commuters are forced to cross tracks, which is dangerous. To maintain the flow of the crowd and keep things smooth, we need more personnel at all the points,” said the official. Of the 78 RPF personnel, seven are sub-inspectors. Their brief was to prevent people from crossing tracks, and alert them of approaching trains by blowing their whistles.
“After deploying security staff at sensitive locations, fewer people have been crossing the tracks,” said the official. Chief Security Commissioner of the RPF (Western Railway) Mahim Swami said, “We are trying our best to prevent accidents. We request the public not to trespass or cross railway lines. It may cost them their lives, as they hurry to reach their destinations.” ]