Wednesday, October 21, 2015

KOCHI: The Railway Protection Force (RPF) in the State, which is responsible for ensuring safety of passengers, is functioning with the minimal staff strength that was sanctioned back in 1983, despite a steep increase in crimes in recent years.

While footfall at railway stations and the number of trains passing through the State saw a quantum growth over the last two decades, the number of RPF personnel, who work along with the Government Railway Police (GRP), has remained almost the same.

According to K P James, ACP, RPF Thiruvananthapuram Division, on average the Railway control room receives 50-60 complaints from passengers daily, with around 10-15 cases demanding urgent intervention.

“The majority of the complainants who seek help are disabled persons and women. There are around 450 Railway Protection Force personnel under the Thiruvananthapuram Division, and 325 personnel under the Palakkad Division. While there are 83 Express trains and 27 passenger trains under the Thiruvananthapuram Division alone, the current staff strength of the RPF is insufficient to cater to the thousands of passengers commuting every day,” he said.

Thrissur Railway Passengers Association general secretary P Krishnakumar said that the service of the 1,000-odd RPF and GRP personnel deployed in the State was limited only to the main railway stations, due to severe staff shortage.

“In the current scenario, if an emergency situation arises in a passenger train between two stations, the affected passengers would be forced to handle the culprit(s) until the train reaches the next main station to get help,” he said.

When asked whether there was any mechanism to ensure transparency in the cases lodged with the Railway authorities, a senior RPF officer said, “the majority of the complainants are women passengers, especially season ticket holders. We are only bound to take action upon receiving complaints or distress calls, while it is up to the other agencies to assess the merit of the cases.”

The Railway Protection Force is also entrusted with the task of safeguarding Railways’ property, ensuring security on platforms and the surrounding areas and escorting trains.

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