Sanctioned strength is 660, but the force has only 487 personnel
तिरुचि Tiruchirappalli (TPJ): Manpower shortage has been a bottleneck for the Railway Protection Force of Tiruchi Railway Division.
Against the sanctioned strength of 660, the RPF in the division has 487 people — a shortfall of 173.
Although the RPF was entrusted with the additional responsibility of escorting trains in 2004 after the relevant laws were amended, the manpower has not been increased, say sources.
Personnel serving in various RPF posts and outposts across the division have been re-deployed for escort duties. The focus is on providing escort only in night trains.
Consequently, the RPF in Tiruchi Division today provides escort only in four express trains — Mangalore-Chennai, Rockfort, Pothigai, and Mannai – by deploying 32 personnel in both directions.
However, the Government Railway Police provides escort in other trains, say the sources.
A new system has been introduced over the past few days wherein RPF personnel of Tiruchi Division could go up to Chennai and return instead of alighting midway once their jurisdiction ends.
In addition to trains that originate from Tiruchi Junction, there are several other long distance trains that pass via Tiruchi every day.
More trains could be provided with escort if only the manpower strength was increased, say officials.
Although a massive recruitment drive to induct 18,000 constables into the force was under way across the country, it would take at least one-and-a-half years for the recruits to join the force after the completion of verification process and training exercises.
“We will have to manage with the existing strength till then,” said an officer.
Armed guards deployed on trains to check robberies
The Government Railway Police have deployed crime teams on a few night trains starting from here after a gang robbed a few passengers of gold chains on the Mayiladuthurai-Mysore Express, near Dharmapuri, a couple of days ago.
The audacious attack, in which criminals struck on different coaches of the train at odd hours, has spotlighted train traveller security and safety.
The armed guards and crime teams had been deployed on major trains such as the Rockfort, Guruvayur, Kanyakumari, Pandian, Pothigai, Nellai, Pearl City and Mayiladuthurai-Mysore Express.
The GRP personnel deployed for train escort duties have been provided with searchlights and weapons. Crime team members have been instructed to travel on select trains starting from Tiruchi and those passing through the station.
They will be in plainclothes, carrying an album of criminals, railway sources say.
Another set of field-level GRP personnel will be deployed on trains operating between shorter destinations to make the policing visible, the sources say.
The stringent security measures have been put in place on a directive from the GRP brass, says an officer. The GRP is tasked with preventing and detecting crimes on trains and at railway stations.
The sources say the list of anti-socials involved in crimes on trains and who are out from jail are being compiled.
Along with the GRP, Railway Protection Force personnel provide escort on a few trains starting from and passing through Tiruchi.