Sanctioned strength is 660, but the force has only 487 personnel
Manpower shortage has been a bottleneck for the Railway Protection Force of Tiruchi Railway Division.
Against the sanctioned strength of 660, the RPF in the division has 487 people — a shortfall of 173.
Although the RPF was entrusted with the additional responsibility of escorting trains in 2004 after the relevant laws were amended, the manpower has not been increased, say sources.
Personnel serving in various RPF posts and outposts across the division have been re-deployed for escort duties. The focus is on providing escort only in night trains.
Consequently, the RPF in Tiruchi Division today provides escort only in four express trains — Mangalore-Chennai, Rockfort, Pothigai, and Mannai – by deploying 32 personnel in both directions.
However, the Government Railway Police provides escort in other trains, say the sources.
A new system has been introduced over the past few days wherein RPF personnel of Tiruchi Division could go up to Chennai and return instead of alighting midway once their jurisdiction ends.
In addition to trains that originate from Tiruchi Junction, there are several other long distance trains that pass via Tiruchi every day.Increase manpower
More trains could be provided with escort if only the manpower strength was increased, say officials.
Although a massive recruitment drive to induct 18,000 constables into the force was under way across the country, it would take at least one-and-a-half years for the recruits to join the force after the completion of verification process and training exercises.
“We will have to manage with the existing strength till then,” said an officer.