Railway tames hoax call menace

Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: Northern Railway officials are breathing easy these days, the reason being that for the past two months there has been no bomb hoax calls at any of the railway stations here in the Capital.

Thanks to their proactive approach that led to key telephones getting the "caller identity" facility and disabling of public phones at stations.

Frequent bomb hoax calls, particularly during peak travel season, have been a major cause of concern for senior Northern Railway officials as they had led to a cascading affect on the railway schedule causing hour-long delays in running of trains.

On an average, at least one call is received every month and generally the threat calls are for trains departing from New Delhi railway station. And of late this number had been growing.

"After a call is received that a bomb has been planted on a train, we have to complete the entire security drill that includes checking of the particular train as well as the entire station before declaring it a hoax. This not only delays that particular train but also affects movement of other trains besides causing grave inconvenience to passengers," says the Northern Railway General Manager, P. K. Goel.

"To tackle this menace, we formulated a strategy and studied the data of previous hoax calls made to New Delhi station, which was the most affected. We observed the areas from where the calls were made and to which numbers in our offices. What we noticed was at most of the times threat calls were being made from coin-operated public telephones at the station and platforms, while some phones came from PCOs," he adds.

They soon identified at least 15 such public telephones that were being used to make hoax calls besides finding at least 132 such phones at the station, including control rooms, and Northern Railway's nearby offices where such calls were generally made, disclosed Mr. Goel, adding that immediately the presence of security personnel was increased at these places.

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