With rising incidences of crimes on long-distance trains, you would expect security to be beefed up. Sadly, most trains, both on Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR), are travelling without security staff from the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
Pic for representation
According to the official reply to an RTI application filed in August by Anis Khan, a railway activist, more than half of the trains running on Central and Western Railway are unattended by security staff from the RPF.
Of the 116 trains that run every day (includes trains on both CR and WR), only 59 trains have RPF escorts on them.
The rest of the trains travel without any security, because the RPF doesn’t have the adequate number of staff.
On an average, CR operates a total of 76 long-distance trains from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), and Dadar Terminus. WR operates around 40 trains from Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus. These numbers exclude trains like summer special, Diwali special etc.
“Looking at the increasing crime rate in trains, the railway authorities should provide security to the passengers. Security staff should be deployed in trains, especially for the female passengers,” said Khan. MiD DAY had recently carried a string of reports on violent attacks on female train passengers in the city.
Trains like Rajdhani Express, August Kranti and other VVIP trains are checked thoroughly by RPF staff before the train departs for its destination. According to Khan, this preferential treatment is given because the fares for these trains are higher. “This is because they pay higher fare. In the other trains, passengers travel in sleeper coaches and pay less fare,” said Khan.
A few trains that do get the privilege of having RPF security on-board are Flying Rani, Avantika Express, Saurashtra Mail and Jaipur Superfast on the Western line, among others.
The RPF is in charge of protecting railway properties, passengers and passenger areas. It is their duty to escort passengers on long-distance trains. The staff is equipped with walkie-talkies, ammunition and FIR forms for the benefit of passengers, when they travel on-board long-distance trains.
Interestingly, the RPF has nearly 10,000 posts lying vacant all over India. Out of the sanctioned strength for CR and WR, around 25-30 per cent are lying vacant (See box for more details). A senior inspector from the CR division of RPF clarified, “We have recently recruited home guards, but we cannot deploy them alone at the important junctions.
There, we absolutely have to deploy RPF staff with them. Even for baggage scanner machines, we have to have RPF staff with the home guards.”
Atul Rane, Chief PRO, Central Railway, said, “Considering the available manpower, we deploy them in the sensitive and important trains. Our efforts are on to increase the security staff.”
Sunil Singh, PRO, Western Railway, said, “We always ensure that we give RPF or GRP security force to trains departing from Mumbai in the night. For trains that travel during the day, we provide RPF security on a priority basis, depending on availability of staff. We are in the process of recruiting more staff.
The average number of trains operated every day including both CR and WR
Percentage of trains with RPF security on Central Railway -- 28 out of 76 trains
Percentage of trains with RPF security on Western Railway -- 31 out of 40 trains
Number of posts lying vacant in the RPF across the country