Sequel to bomb attack on trains in Pulwama district of Kashmir
In the wake of the increased threat to railway property by Maoists, militants and insurgent groups, the Railway Board is looking at various options to tighten security to ensure safe running of trains in the affected zones.
Reacting to the first militant attack on the railways in Kashmir late on Thursday night, top railway officials stressed that the mission to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country would go on without any break.
Earlier, the attack on the railways during a two-day bandh called by the CPI(Maoist) in seven States forced the railways to take a fresh look at its security arrangement.
No less than nine incidents within a span of less than 12 hours, including the derailment of the Rajdhani Express in Bihar, that time made the Railway Board review the security system.
Soon after the blast on a track in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, senior railway authorities took up the matter with the State government, which assured that adequate security measures were being taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Spurt in rail attacks
Incidents of attacks by naxalites, militants and insurgent elements on the railways have been on the rise, ringing alarm bells in the Railway Ministry.. This year the figure is already close to 20. In 2009, it was 58 from, against 30 in 2008
The Railway Board is not only contemplating formulation of a law to empower the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and provide greater security to passengers but is also mulling the filling up of 41,000 vacancies of personnel responsible for ensuring track safety.
The RPF escorts 1,275 trains and the authorities are contemplating to provide protection to more trains and cover about 2000 passenger trains daily in the affected sections. Commando training is being imparted as a preparatory measure.
Apart from allocating adequate funds, arrangement for special security-related training is also being made. Recently, six RPF officers attended a workshop on railway security in the United States and the railways intend to utilise the expertise gained to impart training to others in the force.
The railways are also working on using extensively gadgets such as anti-collision device, train protection warning system and the vigilance control device. Based on the experience gained from the pilot projects, revised specifications are being tested on an emergency basis for reliability and availability.
The railways have also taken the decision to provide closed user group mobile phones to guards and drivers. Additionally, a dedicated mobile train radio communication is also to be provided progressively on important routes for providing communication in running trains to drivers, guards, station masters and control rooms.