Railways Going Tech Savvy

An Interaction with the dynamic and responsive Quaiser Khalid (IPS), Commissioner of Police, Railways, Mumbai by our Editor, Chandragupta Amritkar.

Safety and security of passengers has always been a priority area for Indian Railways, with the Mumbai Railway Commissionerate leading the way in leveraging technology efficiently. Covering a vast railway network from Gujarat border on Western Railways to Mumbai and from CSMT to Kasara and Khopoli stations on the Central Railway Network, and from CSMT to Roha on the Harbour Railway Network, the Commissionerate serves an estimated commuter population of 70-80 Lakhs.

Managing such a large area and commuter volume necessitates reliance on technology. “We, Mumbai Railway Police under the state government, and the RPF (Railway Protection Force) under the central government, are committed to safety, security, peace, order, and offense prevention and detection within our jurisdiction,” said Quaiser Khalid. Despite manpower limitations, technology aids in solving select problems and fortifying railway security.

Facial recognition technology, supported by AI, holds promise in enhancing security at railway stations, crucial in combating crimes like human trafficking and terrorism. The Mumbai Railway Police are enhancing station security through facial recognition technology adoption. Additionally, front-view cameras on local train engines aim to identify factors contributing to incidents like runover deaths.

“Railways and stations are unique venues for crimes. We have different challenges from city police. Do you know at any given minute minimum 1500 commuters arrive or depart? The vegetable and fruit vendors start their journeys right from 3.30 am. Crowd management is important and technology is the saviour. We are incorporating a number of technology initiatives across our jurisdiction. The CCTV network is being upgraded; this will include cameras with video analytics at selected locations. The facial recognition tech at railway stations will help us to identify criminals,” said Quaiser Khalid.

The plan is to link the facial recognition system (FRS) with existing databases such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) to identify criminals at railway stations. Globally FRS is widely adopted, mainly as it’s a contactless non-invasive process. Using AI commuters wearing unobtrusive gear during rush hour can be easily identified. Analytics will help in crime detection, track missing persons and estimate passenger traffic at any time.

Passenger safety is a major policing initiative. The force has developed a software-based manpower management system for optimal utilisation of resources. “We have also introduced a 24-hour operational toll-free helpline 1512 for assisting commuters. As commuters do not have the time to deboard a train and lodge complaints, we try to ensure help is available to the passenger in the next station. There are 30 lines so instant connection with our team is always possible. Also security of Female passengers has been upgraded as we are now deploying policemen in ladies’ compartments during night hours,” said Quaiser Khalid.

The Mumbai Railway Commissionerate is also creating four new police stations. Panvel will soon become a big terminus. Also they are planning to upgrade the infrastructure at CSTM (without damaging the heritage side), Dadar, Panvel and Kalyan.

The department is also constantly upgrading staff capabilities through training sessions and briefings. “We have a dedicated room for these events and have started regular weekend training,” said Quaiser Khalid.

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