The hanging handles in local trains are a godsend for commuters, being the only things that keep them on their feet during rush hour. However, these handles are now going missing due to rampant theft, and with no immediate solution in sight, railway authorities are at their wit’s end.
Every day nearly 30 grab handles inside the local trains go missing. Although the railway administration has asked the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to begin efforts to crackdown on the culprits, the thefts don’t seem to be abating.
“We are familiar with such kind of thefts. These thefts are being done when the trains run during late night and there are no passengers inside,” said an official. “The Central and Western railways lose an average of 15 handles each every day. We have kept an eye on those for these thieves, but have not succeeded in making any breakthrough as yet.”
The approximate cost of one grab handle is around Rs 350, but the railway authorities claim that they hardly fetch thieves anything when they are resold. “There are chances of passengers committing vandalism and so the handles get broken. It takes a few minutes to the break the handles off from their bolts with some force. The culprits must be doing this either when the train is empty or while the train is stationed in the yard,” said an official from Central Railway.
According to the railway officials, the gaps left behind after handles are stolen have to be filled, because it ruins the design of the local. “This is a loss that railway have to incur without any reason. We have tried catching the offenders many times, but failed as we have no idea where they steal these handles,” he added. Though the officials admitted to the occurrence of theft, they were unsure of the locations and timings.
Sharat Chandrayan, CPRO, WR, said, “We are trying to find out where these culprits are breaking off the grab handles. We are going to start with a strict drive against these thefts.”
A K Singh, PRO, CR, said, “We are in the process of improving and increasing the patrolling system with the help of the RPF team. Also, we will be deploying staff in the yard and also in the late night empty trains.”