With a focus on women safety, the Indian Railways has spread the ‘Meri Saheli’ initiative in all its zones, Parliament was told on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the initiative, aimed to provide safety and security to woman passengers for their entire journey, was launched as a pilot project by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) across the South Eastern Railway in trains originating there.
“Considering its success in instilling a sense of security among women passengers, this initiative has been rolled over to all zonal railways across Indian Railways’ network from October 17 last year,” he said.
Dedicated teams of women RPF personnel have been formed across all zonal railways for its implementation, he said.
Noting that Section 58 of the Railways Act, 1989 provides for earmarking of accommodation for female passengers in trains, he said there is a reservation quota of six berths in the sleeper class in long distance Mail or Express trains, a reservation quota of six berths in 3AC class of Garib Rath or Rajdhani or Duronto or fully air-conditioned Express trains for female passengers, irrespective of their age, travelling alone or in a group of female passengers.
He also said that there is a combined reservation quota of six to seven lower berths per coach in the sleeper class, four to five lower berths per coach each in the Air Conditioned 3 tier (3AC) and three to four lower berths per coach in the Air Conditioned 2 tier (2AC) classes (depending on the number of coaches of that class in the train) for senior citizens, female passengers 45 years of age and above and pregnant women.
The Minister also said that there is second class accommodation for women in the second class-cum-luggage-cum-guard’s Coach (SLR) in most of the long distance Mail or Express trains. Exclusive unreserved coaches or compartments for female passengers are there in EMU (Electrical Multiple Unit)/DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit)/MMTS(Multi Modal Transport System) trains and local passenger trains, depending upon demand pattern as well as availability.
He said that the deployment of RPF guard including women RPF personnel in women’s coaches is decided based on the vulnerability of the train or section concerned, timing, location, threat perception of the hinterland, analysis of past crime data among others and hence it “keeps changing from time to time”.
However, women special trains running in metropolitan cities are being escorted by women RPF personnel, he said.
“Presently, 14 ladies special trains are operational over Western and Central Railway serving the Mumbai area. These are being supplemented by 20 trains having partial earmarking of three coaches in the trains which are in addition to the regular earmarking of three coaches or four coaches in 12 car or 15 car trains.
“Over Southern Railway, serving Chennai area, 21 services have earmarking of 6.5 coaches or 5.5 coaches in 12 Car or 9 Car trains. Besides, introduction of additional trains, including Ladies special trains, and augmentation of trains, is an on-going process on Indian Railways,” Goyal added.
The government said on Wednesday that the vaccination drive for railway employees is being carried out in a phased manner and in the first phase, 13,117 healthcare staff of the national transporter have been vaccinated till date.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, “Vaccination of railway employees is being done in a phased manner.”
He said that in the first phase, the railway healthcare staff are being vaccinated. “Till now, 13,117 railway healthcare staff have been vaccinated, while 3,70,316 frontline railway employees have been identified for vaccination in the next phase,” the minister said.
In reply to another question on safety measures for the passengers, the minister said that the railways in coordination with the Government Railway Police (GRP) has taken several initiatives for the safety and security of the passengers, both in the trains and at the stations.
Goyal said that on the vulnerable and identified routes or sections, trains are escorted by Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel in addition to the GRP of different states.
He said the railway helpline number 139 is operational round the clock for security related assistance.
Goyal added that the Railways is also keeping in touch with the passengers through various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to address their security concerns.
“An integrated security system (ISS) for the surveillance of vulnerable stations using CCTV network and access control has been sanctioned to improve the surveillance mechanism in 202 railway stations. Also, CCTV cameras have been provided in 2,931 coaches and 668 railway stations for enhancing the security of the passengers,” the minister said.
He futher stated that drives are being conducted against the entry of unauthorised persons in trains and railway premises.
“A station security plan is being implemented at major stations in a phased manner to enhance access control, improve surveillance and achieve synergy between deployment of various security agencies on the station, while emergency talk-back system and CCTV cameras have been provided in the ladies compartments and coaches of all newly manufactured electrical multiple unit (EMU) and air-conditioned rakes of Kolkata Metro,” Goyal added.