Finally, Indian Railways seems to be taking the security of its passengers seriously. As per a passenger safety plan drawn up by the Railway Board, its security agencies will list out the vulnerable stretches on its massive 70,000km nationwide network, and then deploy cops as well as ticket-checkers in these stretches to weed out vandals.
The emphasis would be on undertaking joint drives involving railway police, Railway Protection Force and ticket-checkers so that offenders can be booked under a whole range of laws, including Indian Penal Code and the Railway Act.
According to officials, instant action would be taken against offenders as local railway magistrates will be accompanying the railway and police personnel on these drives.
"It will be something like the 'fortress checking' employed at railway stations in Mumbai to catch ticket-less travellers. It will allow us to concentrate on a particular stretch and employ the maximum number of personnel there. A lot of crime is committed by people well-versed with the details of a particular route as they travel regularly on that stretch, mostly without tickets," said a senior railway official.
In Mumbai this pattern was detected by the Western Railway's RPF unit, which in the past few months has increased security during non-peak hours between Churchgate and Dadar stations. During non-peak hours, especially early mornings or late afternoons, women's coaches have just a handful of commuters, and chances of someone mugging a commuter is high.
The railways also plans to display, digitally, helpline numbers of local police, the RPF and railway police inside long-distance trains to enable commuters to summon help quickly. It may also come in the form of announcements inside the coaches. The modalities of these technology-intensive works are being worked out, said officials.