Securing Suburban Railway Stations tougher than Airport: Audit

MUMBAI: Securing the airport or a Metro station isn’t half as tough as a suburban railway station, security agencies observed during a recent audit on Central and Western Railways. The biggest threat to security is the innumerable entry and exit points at stations.

A joint team of Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel is conducting an audit of 10 stations each on CR and WR, including CSMT, Churchgate, Dadar, Bandra, Kurla, Thane, Panvel, Vashi and Kalyan.

“We are trying to man as many entry and exit points as possible, but they are too many. Thane station, for instance, has 24 entry and exit points. Then, there are places like Lokmanya Tilak Terminus where the main hall has three entrances, but the platforms are open,” said an RPF official. The only solution, officers found, is to make two- or three-member teams that do random checks at each point, lasting two hours or so.

The GRP found, during the audit, that the most surveillance cameras have been mounted incorrectly; they are placed at such a height that passengers’ heads are seen and not their faces, at some locations.. The GRP is communicating with the railways to reduce their height. CCTV footages often provide good leads in crimes committed on railway premises.

Also at some stations, like Ghatkopar, the street runs parallel to the platform, leaving no space to create a buffer zone—it is crucial for holding people when security personnel are dealing with an emergency on the station. “Many station buildings are old and are security nightmares. With manpower constraints, we have resorted to flash checks, where a contingent of 100 perso-nnel, headed by an ACP-rank officer, descends on a rake and checks every compartment,” said an officer.

Functioning of baggage scanners, metal detectors and cameras will also be audited.