At a time when importance is being given to women’s safety, the railway helpline number 1311 comes as a jarring reality check. Getting the number to connect is a miracle in itself. And even if you are lucky enough to get through, RPF personnel turn up only when two or three stations have passed. Small wonder then, commuters have been complaining about security personnel reaching the coach of a local train after the miscreants have left.
“We have experienced that many times,” said Rekha Pagdhare, member, Rail Pravasi Sangh and resident of Bhayander. “A complaint is made on the helpline number but the RPF personnel reach only after two or three stations.”
According to sources in Western Railway (WR), the biggest flaw in the system is that once the call is made on the helpline number, it is diverted to the control room and then diverted further to the nearest police chowky. The chowky can be three stations away from the point from where the complainant had called. “On an average, we receive over 45 calls every day on our helpline number. But a lot of time is lost in dispersing the information,” said an RPF officer.
However, WR authorities have pulled up their socks now and are all set to shortening the processing time after the call. “Instead of diverting the call to the control room, and then to a police chowky, we have asked RPF to divert the call directly to the nearest railway station master’s office from the control room. This will certainly save time,” said Mahesh Kumar, General Manager, WR.
“We agree that by the time someone registers a complaint, the train would have almost reached the next station,” said another WR official. “In such a case, the best way is to send the complaint to the station master, who would know the precise location of the train from where the complaint was registered.”
Adding to that, the WR has also decided to station RPF personnel inside the ladies compartment located next to the motorman or guard cabin. The personnel will be present inside the coach from 10 pm to 1 am and from 4 am to 7 am as these time slots are considered unsafe.
In a couple of days, the WR will be placing RPF personnel inside 14 out of 65 trains. They are also in talks with the Government Railway Police (GRP) for coordinating the timing of every police personnel inside the ladies coach. “We request the women to board the compartment next to the motorman or guard from 10 pm to 1 am and from 4 am to 7 am so that it becomes easier to protect them,” said Kumar.
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