Eight years after railways acknowledged the need for providing a fixed berth on trains for railway police/Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel on escort duty, it took a push from the Allahabad High Court to get the organization to act on it.
The Allahabad HC wanted two seats reserved in each train for the security men, but Railways will provide just one.
Something is always better than nothing, that too coming from an organization known for its lethargic attitude in implementing new ideas, security personnel feel.
As per a recent railways circular, in all long-distance trains, seat No. 63 in S1 sleeper coach will be reserved for RPF/railway police personnel. Railways had initially zeroed in on seat No. 71, but that was changed as that seat is too close to the exit, and there are chances of escorting personnel's weapons/communication equipment being stolen, sources said.
It was in August 2006 that railways asked all zonal railways to work towards reserving one seat—preferably a lower side berth—for personnel on escort duty. The matter, however, died out as railways failed to agree on the seat to be provided.
"It's better late than never. A fixed seat means passengers would know where to contact the cops in case they need help. At present people have to walk the length and breadth of the train searching for the escort cop," said a senior railway official.
Officials believe the move would also increase the efficiency of the cops. Welcoming the decision, an RPF constable said: "Previously we would simply stand near the exit or occupy some vacant seat, often eliciting complaints from passengers. This is a good move."
Allahabad HC's other recommendations to enhance security
* Note down addresses of all season-pass holders.
* Expedite work on an All-India helpline number on the pattern of United States' 911 or European Unions' 112. The number should be of a maximum three digits.
* Give training to other railway employees on trains—ticket examiners. coach attendants, catering staff, etc—to be part of any response mounted by the railway police/RPF.
* Equip security agencies with short range weapons, instead of the obsolete .303 rifles.
* Get cracking on people with general or season tickets entering reserved coaches.