Mumbai: Nine helplines, but of little help to suburban railway commuters

  • Saurabh M Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 07, 2015 22:27 IST

Did you know there are nine helplines suburban railway commuters can dial in case of distress? How many of them do you remember?

If the abundance of ‘special’ phone numbers for different emergencies were not confusing enough, the Government Railway Police (GRP) is all set to launch another helpline on Women’s Day, to cater specifically to women.

The multiple helplines do not guarantee efficient response, as often, they lead to coordination issues between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and GRP.

Of the nine helplines for commuters on Western, Central and harbour lines, the RPF operates six while the GRP manages three.

“I don’t know any railway police helpline numbers. I will rely on mobile phone applications in emergencies, or dial ‘100,’ which I have known since childhood. A single helpline will be more useful,” said Karishma Shah, a student from Vile Parle.

Urvi Nathani, resident of Santacruz (East), had a similar opinion. “Since I don’t know any railway helplines, I will get down at a station and go to the railway police on platforms, or dial ‘100’. Most of the pamphlets advertising these helplines in train coaches are torn or not legible,” she said.

Authorities admit to the confusion, as often, the caller is directed or transferred from one helpline to another. “The manner in which we operate slows the reaction time of the police force on the suburban network,” said a GRP officer.

Senior railway police officers said a single helpline for commuters was unviable at present, because of the lack of an integrated police force for the suburban section. “Integrated helplines will be helpful, but can be possible only if the railways takes initiative,” said Ravinder Singal, commissioner, GRP.

RPF officers said they provide help whenever a call is received. “We run the helpline efficiently and coordinate with the GRP to give callers the best possible help,” said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (CR).

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