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Guards need at least 10 minutes to respond to a distress call

Pulling the emergency chain is no guarantee that help would arrive immediately during a robbery bid on a train.

Guards need at least 10 minutes to respond to a distress call
File photo of RPF personnel distributing awareness pamphlets to passengers


Neither the loco pilot nor the guard would be able to reach the ‘marked’ coach for at least 10 minutes from the time of pulling of the emergency chain, unless the Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) or Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel on the coach stay alert, which is a rarity. 

Train crew in zonal headquarters admit that they would require a minimum of 10 minutes to even locate the coach from which the emergency chain was pulled and by the time they reach the place, it would be too late. 

“We have to physically verify the emergency gear in each coach to confirm the distress call. It can be done only by checking the fittings in each coach. If the TTE or the RPF staff do not alert us, it will take 10 minutes before we reach the passengers in trouble. It is only to reduce the response time that railway department has distributed search lights to RPF personnel so that they can look for the distress signalling equipment straight away,” said a guard of Chennai Division requesting anonymity. 

He admitted that the crew on board the Bangalore mail, which was robbed in the wee hours of Sunday, would not have done much to stop the robbers even if they were aware of the crime. 

Loco pilots operating in the division for long admitted that robbers hit mostly at remote inter-state and inter-district borders where stoppage would be hours apart and the terrain would be conducive for the robbers to get away. 

Incidentally, Sunday’s robbery aboard Bangalore mail at Jolarpet only confirmed loco pilot’s fears. Barely a month ago, robbers targeted an express train at Morappur. More than the robbery, it was the modus operandi that shook the security managers in southern railway. The robbers had cleverly triggered a sensor (track sensor junction box), which turned the signal red and stopped the movement of the express train and helped them decamp with valuables of the passengers. 

“Only a person with technical knowledge of the rail system could have done it,” said an SR mechanical department officer requesting anonymity.

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