A woman guard in women’s compartments round the clock, re-examining coach placement in local trains and a ‘simple and uniform’ toll-free helpline number for women for the entire Indian Railways are some of the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee constituted in the aftermath of repeated attacks on women commuters in Mumbai in 2013.
The committee, under the chairmanship of T R Baalu, was set up in October 2013, to suggest improvements in women security on the suburban railways after attacks on women commuters.
On July 27 last year, a 23-year-old nurse was molested by a drunk man in the early morning hours while she was travelling alone in the compartment between Mahalaxmi and Lower Parel. A few days later on August 18, a 28-year-old American national was attacked by a drug addict while she was travelling alone in the train between Marine Lines and Charni Road.
On the basis of the recommendations of the committee, all zonal railways have been recently instructed by the Railway Board to assess and provide separate counters for women commuters.
One of the recommendations is to provide only one toll free number instead of multiple numbers for women commuters. The number should be displayed inside and outside railway coaches, at girl’s schools and colleges, offices and working women’s hostel.
The number should also be printed on suburban tickets and train timetables in English and respective regional language, mentions the report. While recommending use of Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTVs), the report suggests manning compartments for ladies with one woman guard present in the coaches at all times.
Although alarm chains are provided in all coaches, the report recommends provision of emergency alarm bells or warning bells which are connected to Loco Pilot and Guard’s cabin where the coach number should be displayed, suggests the committee.
The report says, if feasible, the coach number should be reflected in the Railway Protection Force booth of a nearby station.
Suggesting an examination of placement of coaches for women, the report states, “(Women) They should feel assured that they will not face difficult because of unusual placement of coaches, especially during early mornings or night time, more so with the ill-lit platforms.”
A similar proposal to group all women’s compartments at end of the train was earlier mooted by then General Manager Subodh Jain in 2013.
However, the plan was dropped after opposition from the passenger groups and non-availability of rakes.
Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager, Central Railway said, “The Railway Board will take a view of the recommendations of the parliamentary committee and take a decision on the measures that will be implemented at the divisional level.”