Move to increase safety of women; study revealed most crimes take place near stairs, exits

All Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) stations in the city will soon have only one entry and exit point.

With crimes against women being tackled with renewed vigour, and when such crimes seem to be on the rise, Southern Railway and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) conducted a joint study two months ago, about the crowd pattern in all MRTS railway stations.

“We studied how commuters leave the station premises. We found that they moved out through different exit points. Because of this, it becomes difficult for RPF personnel to monitor all the gates at the same time,” said a Southern Railway source.

Officials felt that if all commuters descended down the same staircase and used only one exit point, it would be easier for the RPF to monitor the crowd and prevent any untoward incidents. “It was felt that even criminals would be less likely to snatch chains or misbehave with women if this were so,” said the source.

An RPF officer said the patrolling system in stations had also been altered to ensure fewer crimes were committed. “Most of the crimes committed in station are on the stairs or at exit points. And so, RPF personnel are posted at these spots instead of on platforms. This will not only deter criminals but will also help the RPF to nab the accused easily,” he said.

He added that police officers were posted on trains too. “The patrol party travels till the end of the line and then goes around in a jeep to monitor all the stations. Because of this, no one sleeps on the station premises anymore,” said the officer.

The RPF claim that thanks to these and other measures taken, crime rate has reduced by half. “In 2011, 11 crimes were reported in MRTS stations. But in 2012, they dropped to six. This is mainly because of improved patrolling. Among all the EMU services, the MRTS is the safest,” the officer added.

Women commuters said having one exit in the stations would be beneficial. “Women are not comfortable walking alone in the large, empty stations. More police officers and one exit will make them safer as there will be a crowd then,” said B. Sundari, a resident of Pattabiram who has been commuting by EMU services for the past six years.