The Indian Railways is planning to run pilot trains before premier trains pass through the Maoist-dominated territory spread over Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.
Also, the railway ministry has revived plans to raise a commando force and implement the Rs 350-crore Integrated Security System (ISS) — conceived three years back.
The ISS will have CCTVs, electronic access control systems, personal and baggage screening machines and explosive detection and disposal systems at the railway stations identified as “vulnerable”.
Across the country, the railways identified 140 stations and 96 trains as “vulnerable” (see box).
The railways has a 63,327-km network and operate 8,984 passenger trains, ferrying about 1.4 million passengers every day.
At present, 3,904 personnel of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and 4,560 personnel of the Government Railway Police (GRF) escort 1,257 and 2,329 trains, respectively.,
“With fresh security threats, the task of providing safety is becoming truly unmanageable,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
RPF Director General Ranjit Sinha told Hindustan Times, “I will shortly tour the Naxal-affected states for better coordination with the state governments concerned.”
Filling vacancies in the RPF has remained a nagging issue, while there is substantial resentment about the deployment of the force in election-related and other civilian duties.
During the assembly elections in Maharashtra early this month, the railway minister initially refused to spare the RPF, but later agreed to the state government’s request.
After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, an inter-ministerial and high-level committee made several recommendations to provide a composite security plan for the railways.
The railways approved the raising of three additional battalions of the Railways Protection Special Force (RPSF). But the recommendations have mostly not been implemented yet.
(With inputs from Rakeeb Hossain in Kolkata)