Hit by manpower shortage, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has embarked on the exercise of identifying “non-core areas” in Tiruchi and other railway divisions in the Southern Railway zone where its field-level personnel have been deployed to effectively utilise them in core security duties.
The move comes in the wake of instructions from the Railway Board to the RPF which is vested with the responsibility of safeguarding passengers, passenger areas, and railway property.
A three-member committee has been constituted for this purpose in Tiruchi Railway Division to identify the non-core areas where RPF personnel have been posted and other aspects and offer suggestions.
Information pertaining to non-core areas collected from various railway divisions in the Southern Railway zone along with suggestions would be forwarded to the RPF zonal authorities in Chennai.
Upon obtaining inputs from all railway zones across the country regarding non-core areas and creation of new RPF posts, the Railway Board would take a final call on the matter, say officials.
The objective is to redeploy manpower to perform core security duties such as providing armed escort on board trains and protection of passenger areas and railway property for which they have been trained, said a senior officer.
The idea is to outsource by engaging private security agencies or Home Guards to perform duties in non-core areas under the control of the jurisdictional RPF Inspectors, say officials.
The three-member committee constituted in Tiruchi division, which too is facing manpower shortage, is expected to compile its report in a week. Although the sanctioned strength of RPF in Tiruchi Division alone is 671, the actual strength is 471 with the shortfall being 200.
Many from the existing strength have been deployed in non-core areas, including railway hospitals, zonal railway training school, railway store depots, and officers’ bungalows.
The acute manpower shortage has forced RPF of Tiruchi Division to provide armed escort in only a handful of long-distance night trains originating from Tiruchi and in those passing through the division, say officials. Officials feel the shortfall in manpower would be substantially addressed once the recruitment of 11,000 constables was over.
But that would take at least one-and-a-half years as the written examination for the post of constable had just got completed. This would be followed by physical efficiency test and viva voce thereafter. The constables would be inducted into the force upon completion of 10-months training.
Railway Board asks RPF for report on ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ area, writes R. RAJARAM