Following an intelligence alert that terrorists were planning an attack on the Deccan Odyssey and the Maharaja Express — the two iconic luxury trains of India — the Railway police and the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) have jointly chalked out a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as a security measure.
On an average, the Deccan Odyssey carries 1,500 passengers per train, most of them foreign tourists, and its annual return is Rs 15 crore. Following 26/11, the MTDC incurred a heavy loss as traffic reduced drastically. “Due to the terror attack, the bookings were down by 50 per cent. Even though we were running the train in huge loss, we had to pay heavy duty to the railways (Rs 1 crore for two weeks),” said Vijay Chavan, General Manager of the MTDC adding that now, with the usual
business, the MTDC has reached the break even point. On the other hand, the Maharaja Express was launched a fortnight ago.
The SOP, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, was prepared last week following a meeting of MTDC, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF). The alert was issued a fortnight ago.
The new procedure states that all service providing staffs on the luxury trains will be issued photo identity cards.
When contacted, Qaisar Khalid, deputy commissioner of police, Central Railways GRP, confirmed the development. “We have planned several safety and security measures to counter any terrorist attack, but I would not like to disclose them,” Khalid told HT.
The SOP states that the GRP and the RPF would carry out anti-sabotage checks (with dog squads) in presence of the MTDC officials after the train arrives at the yard.
“A separate beat of the RPF would be created to guard these rakes till their departure,” said a senior officer.
A detailed programme of the luxury trains would be handed over by the MTDC in confidential cover to all the senior officers
of the GRP and RPF, in advance. MTDC officials would be present at the originating station and they would escort tourists through the various security checks. The GRP officer will then check the travel documents of foreign tourists.
To increase security onboard, a sizeable number of armed escorts would be deployed and checks will be conducted at scheduled halts. “The MTDC will install CCTV cameras in each coach covering the common hall which would be monitored by the escorts,” the officer added.