The Western Railway seems to be on the track to improving security of women commuters, particularly during late-night travel. It has decided to initiate several measures, which include increased patrolling in trains, installation of more Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras at stations, and setting up a centralised control room to monitor CCTVs at suburban stations.
“We have informed the government railway police (GRP) to increase vigilance between 8pm and 1.30 am in trains. Patrolling should be increased in trains on the down line (away from Churchgate), because they are not so crowded,” said Mahesh Kumar, general manager, WR.
The WR had earlier planned to set up an integrated security system (ISS) at all stations. This includes a host of measures to boost security, including a network of advanced CCTVs, metal detectors, among others. The WR also planning a control room at Mumbai Central, to centralise the monitoring of all the cameras.
“Currently, footage from the CCTV at a particular station is monitored at that station itself. A control room will connect all the cameras to each other and a dedicated staff will monitor them throughout,” said Kumar.
Safety on foot overbridges and subways – which are often deserted and poorly lit – will also be improved. The Railways is working on a strategy which will be implemented within a week.
At present, the WR does have police patrolling and security personnel are supposed to be posted in ladies’ compartments at night, but women commuters complained the provisions are only on paper. “We hardly see any policing. In case of an emergency, we don’t know whom to contact,” said Menaka Pani, 27, a software engineer and Borivli resident.
Transport activist Ashok Datar said, “Expensive equipment alone won’t be helpful. Women commuter groups should be formed to understand and address women’s problems.