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Indian Railways starts installation of CCTV cameras in premium trains but data suggests implementation remains a challenge

From October onwards, you can sleep peacefully and not worry about your belongings while travelling in trains. Keeping in mind the lack of security in trains, Indian Railways has now started expediting the process of installing CCTV surveillance cameras in premium trains.

As per the plan, CCTVs will be installed in premium trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto.

"Ensuring safety and security of passengers is our topmost priority. In view of the increase in cases of robberies and thefts in trains, we are now planning to install CCTV cameras in trains", Anil Kumar Saxena, Additional Director General of Railway Board told Firstpost.

In the initial phase, Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani, August Kranti Rajdhani, Ahmedabad-Delhi Rajdhani and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express will be equipped with closed-circuit cameras.

Representational image. CNN News18

Representational image. CNN News18

"We will soon chalk out the plan of installing cameras in all premium trains", Saxena added.

On trail basis, CCTV cameras have already been installed in one coach the of Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express.

"We plan to install CCTV in all coaches of three Rajdhani and one Shatabdi train of Western Railways by October", Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), Ravinder Bhakar said.

"Premium trains are being considered because it's easier to manage the monitoring and surveillance, since the travel time of the premium trains is less," said Bhakar.

" A separate control room will be created and a special RPF teams will be formed soon, which will be responsible for round-the-clock surveillance and monitoring", Bhatkar added.

Recent incidents of theft spurred railway authorities into action?

The move comes after a dozen passengers were robbed in the Delhi-bound August Kranti Rajdhani Express, in August, by unidentified persons who managed to get away, leaving no trace behind.

The 12 passengers were reportedly drugged by the miscreants after which, they were robbed of their belongings, including jewellery, high-end phones and electronic gadgets estimated to be worth Rs 10 lakh at least. The lack of CCTV cameras inside the train so far has made it harder for the railways to identify the culprits.

"Installing CCTVs was already under consideration for a  long time, but the incident proved to be a trigger for the development", a senior Western Railway official who wished to remain anonymous told Firstpost.

The railways currently plans to install CCTVs in regular express and passenger trains, Bhakar added. However, some passengers' associations have questioned the authorities for giving priority to high-speed elite trains over others.

"It's a good thing, but why should railways give importance to only Rajdhani trains? Aren't passengers travelling in other trains entitled to security?", Subash Gupta, president of Rail Yatri Parishad said.

There are about 11,000 trains and 7,000 stations across the country.

Currently, the newly-inaugurated trains like Mumbai-Karmali Tejas Express, and 10 rakes of new Humsafar Express are the only trains which have security cameras installed.

Recently, the Minister of State of Railways, Rajen Gohain had announced that railways will implement a number of measure to provide safety and security to the passengers.

"Strengthening and upgradation of security infrastructure is an ongoing process. Sanction under Rolling Stock programme for provision of CCTV cameras in 750 coaches is being made  and fitment of CCTVs in coaches shall be carried out in a phased manner", the minister had told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

Other steps to make railways safer also being taken

Apart from equipping the premium trains with surveillance cameras, Indian Railways is in the process of implementing several other steps to make your journey safer. Under the Nirbhaya Fund, railways will be installing​ CCTV surveillance system across 900 railway stations, including 202 sensitive stations that have been identified by the authorities. Till now, a total of 344 stations have been equipped with CCTVs. Railways have about 8,000 stations in India.

Along with CCTVs, railways has undertaken various plans to tighten the security in trains.

On vulnerable and identified routes/sections, 2500 trains (on an average) will now have Railway Protection Force personnel onboard on a daily basis. In addition to this, 2,200 trains will be escorted by Government Railway Police personnel of different states. The train escorting parties too have been briefed to keep extra vigil on the ladies coaches en-route and at halting stations.

Crime data on Indian Railways' poses a worrying picture

Railways has recently come under a lot of  criticism over increase in number of thefts and other crimes reported onboard trains and at railway stations. Data suggests that there has been a significant jump in incidents of crimes in railways. In 2016, a total of 17,925 cases of theft and over 500 cases of robbery was reported. This data does not take into account other crimes, such as molestation incidents, brawls, or crimes that go unreported.

Northern Railways topped the list with over 3,356 crimes of theft, while Central Railways stood second. Southern Railways reported lowest number of theft related incidents. Another report in The Times of India states that serious crime on the railways has increased by 226 percent in the first two trimesters of 2017, in comparison to the corresponding period last year. For example, if one takes the incidents of robbery alone, the newspaper report states that there were 38 cases reported between January-June 2016, which went up to 83 this year (over the same period).

However, as The Times of India report pointed out, the massive rise could also be due to the fact that the Government Railway Police officers has turned increasingly strict that the crimes are registered under correct sections.

If one looks at previous years, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 2011 saw 25,737 registered crimes in railways. The figure rose to 29,239 in 2015, with a 24 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) increase from 2014 to 2015.

According to the Standing Committee report on the safety and security of railways, the biggest reason behind the high crime rates on railways' properties is that the three-tier security system of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Reserve Police (GRP) and District Police is not fully effective. The report suggests that deployment of multiple law enforcement agencies in railways may sometime leads to confusion among public and grey areas among these agencies. Lack of coordination amid the three forces makes matters worse.

In the past three years, railways has coughed up more than Rs 8 crore as compensation to the victims of theft.

Implementation remains a problem

There have been projects galore, on paper and in political speeches, which claim that Indian Railways will soon be a safer mode of transport. On ground, however, things are easier said than done.

According to government data, as of now, there are only about 344 railway stations, where CCTV cameras have been provided. And at many stations, CCTVs are yet to be installed, while some are not yet operational due to lack of monitoring rooms, according to Hindustan Times.

Recently, the Standing Committee report on safety and security stated that non-availability of funds to create additional capacity and modernisation of assets as well as difficulty in giving time for maintenance of assets due to saturation of the current network is seriously affecting railway operations.


Updated Date: Sep 29, 2017 09:06 AM

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