To put in place more manpower and to cover more long distance express trains, writes R.Rajaram.
The top brass of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) have formulated a new pattern of train escorting – to put in place more manpower for train escort duties and to cover more number of long distance express, mail and superfast trains in the Southern Railway zone.
A special committee constituted by the RPF Chief Security Commissioner, Chennai, has drawn up the new train escort pattern which has been circulated to the RPF Divisional Security Commissioners of Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai, Salem, Palakkad, and Thiruvananthapuram railway divisions.
The RPF authorities at Southern Railway headquarters have sought feedbacks and views from the RPF Divisional Security Commissioners regarding the new pattern in order to analyse its pros and cons in detail before putting the revised mechanism in place.
Since July 1, 2004, the RPF has been entrusted with the additional responsibilities of escorting passenger trains and providing access control, regulation and general security on platforms; in passenger areas and circulating areas consequent to the amendments to the Railway Act, 1989 and the RPF Act, 1957.
Several long distance trains – daily, weekly and bi-weekly– (up and down) in Southern Railway zone are being provided armed escort by RPF personnel attached to different divisions. In Tiruchi Railway Division alone, around 90 RPF personnel in the rank of Constable, Head Constable and Assistant Sub Inspector are utilised every day to provide armed escort to about 30 long distance trains (up and down) when they pass through the division.
In addition to carrying weapons, the escort teams are also equipped with walkie-talkie sets, search lights, FIR forms, feedback forms and albums containing photographs of offenders carrying out crimes on board trains. In the existing pattern of train escorting, the escort teams are confined to their respective jurisdiction. The Tiruchi RPF escort teams, for instance, hand over charge to their Chennai, Madurai or Salem counterparts once their jurisdiction ends.
Under the proposed new pattern, the escort teams would have to travel beyond their respective jurisdiction on board trains with extended escort timings, RPF officials say. Deployment of young RPF personnel for train escort duties; providing closed user group mobile phones to the escort parties; changing the escort staff on rotation basis every week and concentration on night trains alone are among the many measures forming part of the proposed new pattern.