Indian Railways to protect female train passengers with panic button, CCTV

Representative Image
With a view to strengthen security of women passengers in trains, the North Eastern Railway plans to deploy women police personnel on trains during night hours as well as install 'panic buttons' in coaches.

In a country where crime against women and children is 'rampant', the Indian Railways is taking steps to ensure that women feel secure while travelling in trains. Now, women won't have to depend on helpline numbers or chain-pulling. The national carrier has planned to deploy women police personnel on trains during night hours, and install ‘panic buttons’ in coaches.

Since the national transporter had decided to dedicate the year 2018, as the year of women’s safety, the North-Eastern Railways plans to deploy women police personnel in sub-urban trains during night hours besides recruitment of women in the RPF.

In December 2017, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, "We will take 2018 as a year where we collectively fight against atrocities against women and children, especially human trafficking. That will be a focused effort across Indian railways".

Here's what Indian Railways has planned for women, children

Panic buttons

The railways propose to have 'panic buttons' in the coaches, which will be linked with the guard coach, according to a PTI report.

How do they work? The “panic button” will be placed at convenient spots for easy reach of women travellers above the electric switches. When the button is pressed, the coach guard will be informed to promptly attend to the situation, chief PRO of NER, Sanjay Yadav told PTI.

The installation of panic buttons is likely to start by this year-end.

Coloured coaches, special windows for women, CCTV cameras

Indian Railways has proposed different coloured coaches earmarked for women for easy identification and wire mesh in windows of ladies coaches.  Earlier this year, the Indian Railways had ensured that coaches reserved for women in trains will be placed in the centre of trains instead of its rear end and will be painted in pink colour to make it easily identifiable.

The North-Eastern Railways (NER) also intends to install CCTV cameras in women coaches of sub-urban trains with live feed, CCTV cameras on platforms to cover ladies’ coaches during stopovers of trains, the amendment in the Railways Act to ensure enhanced punishment for offences pertaining to women.

Eyewatch Railways app for female passengers

Since the Railways is focusing on "women and child safety" quite seriously, Railway Protection Force or RPF of Western Railway in November 2017, launched “Eyewatch Railways” app to assist the women commuters during emergency situations. The app can immediately send out their location, video and audio which can instantly be viewed on the Emergency response control centre at the RPF Control room at Mumbai Central.

Railways also proposes month-wise calendar of activities with focus on women security and gender sensitisation and upgradation of all-India security helpline.

Currently, the ladies’ special trains running in Metropolitan cities are being escorted by lady RPF constables. Security Help Line number 182 is operational over Indian Railways for security-related assistance to passengers in distress, according to Indian Railways' website.

Be it at home, workplace or any transport system, women's safety needs to be of utmost priority in the country right now and seeing the number of significant measures being taken by the Indian Railways, women need to feel safe and secure.

But the rising number of molestation and theft cases being reported seem to be ceaseless. Earlier in May, a woman and her son were thrown off a running train allegedly by a man who robbed her of her money and belongings.

The position of ladies' compartments in local and passenger trains should be shifted to the middle, a Parliamentary panel mooted in 2015, noting that placing them at the rear of a train posed a security threat to women.

The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women also said that the present strength of Railway Protection Force(RPF) is not adequate for providing security on railway premises and on trains, especially for women, and wanted it to be increased at the earliest to check crimes.

Placing of the ladies compartment at the rear end of the train posed real security threat to women as it is easy for a miscreant to enter or escape from the coach after committing a crime, it said.

"In the wake of several cases of crimes against women aboard trains, the Committee has desired that the Railways should reconsider their policy of placement of ladies' compartments and should explore the ways and means to position it in the middle of trains.

According to data collated by Indian Railways, the crime against women passengers are on a rise in trains. Nearly two women passengers face crime incidents every day while there are 50 cases of thefts per day on trains.

In a worrying trend, the crime against women passengers and incidents of thefts of passengers’ belongings are on a rise in trains in last three years across the country. Nearly two women passengers face crime incidents every day while there are 50 cases of thefts per day on trains. the highest numbers of such incidents are reported from central, northern and western zones respectively. Railway registered 454 cases of crime against women in 2014, it rose to 553 in 2015 and 606 in 2016.

Crimes against women passengers on trains. Source: IndiaSpend

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