From CCTV cameras to more washrooms: Railways puts women's safety on track

Shatabdi Train. Photo: wikicommons
The Narendra Modi government is likely to announce 2018 as the year of women's safety in Railways in the upcoming Budget, and a slew of measures are planned as part of the initiative to make the transport safer for them, officials sources said. 

The Railways might use part of the Nirbhaya Fund to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in ladies' coaches and increase the number of washrooms on platforms, among other measures.  

The Nirbhaya Fund has a corpus of Rs 10 billion to support initiatives by the government and non-governmental organisations working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women. 

"The Railways is working on a detailed plan. This will include the installation of CCTV cameras in ladies' coaches, especially in suburban train services," said an official close to the development.

The plan also includes increasing the number of washrooms or ensuring at least two at each platform, having sufficient lighting in women's coaches, and deploying women security officials on long-distance trains, the official added.

      Train Of Thought
  • Nirbhaya Fund was launched in 2013
  • It has a corpus of Rs 10 billion
  • Aims to support initiatives by the Centre and NGOs for works on women safety

The Railways has already launched a helpline number, 182, for security assistance, and begun the installation of CCTV cameras at 344 railway stations. Also, regular coordination meetings are being held between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and state governments.

The Railways is reported to have proposed a plan outlay of Rs 1.46 trillion for 2018-19, 11 per cent more than the previous financial year. Of this, about Rs 600 billion is expected to come from the finance ministry as gross budgetary support (GBS). During the current financial year, the railways has got a budgetary support of Rs 550 billion, including Rs 150 billion for the Railways Safety Fund.

Against the backdrop of the rising number of train accidents, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed a non-lapsable safety fund, the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), of Rs 200 billion a year, of which Rs 50 billion will be the Railways' share. Of the Rs 530 billion that will be spent on safety in 2017-18, about Rs 200 billion will be coming from the RRSK. 

Earlier this week, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, "Funds are not an issue. We will work efficiently with whatever funds we get. We will be happy with whatever is earmarked by the finance ministry as GBS. We are looking for higher revenues through an increase in freight earnings."

According to Goyal, the Railways wants to increase its share in the overall goods movement to 50 per cent from the current share of around 35 per cent, touching three billion tonnes of freight traffic from the current 1.1 billion tonnes by 2030. 

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