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Railways plans common emergency helpline

R. Krishna Kumar
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For swifter service:The introduction of a common helpline is expected to reduce response time of the Railways.— File PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
For swifter service:The introduction of a common helpline is expected to reduce response time of the Railways.— File PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

In a bid to reduce the response time during emergencies and avert potential damage, the Indian Railways is planning to introduce a common three- or four-digit helpline across the country.

The concept of the Railway Security Messaging System will be similar to that of the police control room (100).

Disclosing this to The Hindu , P.K. Mohandas, Divisional Security Commissioner, Railway Protection Force (RPF), said the idea was in the final stages of being conceptualised and senior- and middle-level officers of the RPF had been summoned to give feedback and inputs to ascertain how best and fast they could synchronise their response to emergencies.

“The idea is to help elicit information from passengers onboard the train or at stations in case they come across any suspicious person, unclaimed luggage, unidentified objects, fellow passengers carrying inflammable material or any substance that could cause fire, accidents or any eventuality that jeopardises passenger safety,” Mr. Mohandas said.

Nodal authority

The concept entails having a nodal authority functioning on a 24x7 basis and headquartered, may be, in New Delhi from where the message would be relayed to the appropriate zonal or divisional headquarters to plan and coordinate their response.

But given the enormity of the Railways operations, passenger feedback or alert will have to be accurate and include details such as the train number or name so that authorities could track its position and alert the nearest security outpost.

The plan would be unveiled after fine-tuning the details as it involves working out and finalising the logistics and procedures to be followed depending on the exigency, Mr. Mohandas said, and added that the personnel had to be trained to respond appropriately under different situations.

Integrated security system

Mr. Mohandas said that an integrated security system to be implemented across nearly 200 stations in the country entailed access control through multiple screening of luggage and limiting the entry to stations only to passengers. However, the original concept of barricading the station premises with high compound walls was being reviewed.

Three stations in the South Western Railway zone were identified for implementing the integrated security system. However, it was not yet clear whether Mysore had been selected for implementing it, Mr. Mohandas said.

He said closed-circuit television cameras would definitely be sanctioned for Mysore and these would be in addition to the existing 18 CCTV cameras.

The new CCTV cameras would be installed at places such as pit lines and shunting yard.

Baggage screening

There is uncertainty over the introduction of multi-layer baggage screening system in view of lack of space at the Mysore station. Mr. Mohandas said the thrust was on beefing up security-related infrastructure to increase human productivity and supplement the existing mechanism.

There are 300 RPF personnel in the Mysore division. In addition, there is the Railway Protection Special Force, and a mobile unit, whose services could be sought in case of emergency, according to Mr. Mohandas.

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