Taking a leaf out of airports' books, Indian Railways is planning to seal stations for security checks. Train passengers would have to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled departure time to complete these security checks before boarding their trains.
This security plan has already been put into action on a pilot basis at Allahabad railway station, which is expected to see huge crowds due to Kumbh Mela this month, as well as at Hoobly railways station in Karnataka. A blueprint for implementing this arrangement at 202 more stations is ready, Railway Protection Force Director General Arun Kumar told PTI.
"At each entry point, there will be random security checks. However, unlike at airports, passengers need not come hours in advance, but just 15-20 minutes ahead of their departure times to ensure that they are not delayed because of the security process," Kumar said.
While security will increase, the presence of security personnel will not due to the deployment of high-end technology solutions. "If we are investing in technology, then manpower requirement will reduce. The plan is to seal the railway stations. It is primarily about identifying openings and to determine how many can be closed. There are areas which will be closed through permanent boundary walls, others will be manned by RPF personnel and yet others will have collapsible gates," Kumar said.
These enhanced security measures steps are part of a plan under the Integrated Security System (ISS) which was approved in 2016 to strengthen surveillance mechanism at 202 railway stations. The ISS will comprise CCTV cameras, access control, personal and baggage screening system and bomb detection and disposal system. It will also include real-time face recognition software which will alert the RPF command centre of any known offenders.
Together these implements will provide multiple points to monitor passengers and baggage from the point of entry in the station premises till boarding the train. Passengers will be checked randomly - every eighth or ninth passenger will undergo the process on his arrival at the station. The anticipated cost of the ISS project stands at Rs 385.06 crore.
"The security plan envisages a layered security check where passengers will be scrutinised even before they enter the station premises to ease the pressure at stations during peak hours," Kumar said.
(Edited by Vivek Punj with PTI inputs)