As safety while using the Indian Railways becomes a matter of raging debate, it appears that the local division of this transport authority has decided to a rather futuristic remedial measure.
Now, two new drone cameras will be deployed soon to keep a hawk’s eye watch on railway tracks and stations in Pune railway division — also incidentally making it the first division in the country to use such a vigilance system.
Recent incidents of derailment and other railway accidents have sparked this decision, and the first trial runs for these cameras will take place next week.
Speaking to media about the initiative, Pune Divisional Railway Manager B K Dadabhoy said, “Train operations, maintenance of tracks, vigilance against untoward incidents and various other initiatives are being carried out round the clock by the railways. When accidents occur on the tracks, our Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel and officials do take some time to reach the spot and verify matters. Often, there are cases of passengers protesting on the tracks, rail rokos and more — all in all, human vigilance has its limitations. So, we decided that drone cameras will aid us immeasurably when it comes to keeping an eye on railway tracks, Pune railway station and other areas under the division.”
Dadabhoy added, “Initially, we will buy just two drones at an approximate budget of Rs 40 lakh. They will be highquality machines to record videos and take pictures at a certain distance above ground level. It will help us get realtime videos and photos if incidents like derailment, accidents, illegal track crossing, passengers’ stunts (especially on Pune–Lonavala local train routes), track maintenance work, law and order situations and encroachments on railway property take place. Next week, we will conduct trial runs for the drone cameras, keeping one at Pune railway station and the other at Miraj railway station to cover nearby areas.”
In October 2016, the Maharashtra Express train derailed at Pune railway station during its night trip; several incidents of youths carrying out stunts have also been observed on Pune- Lonavala locals. While the RPF takes continual action against miscreants and trespassers, they can cover only a limited area.
Meanwhile, commuters have welcomed the drone project. Prashant Sharma, a daily passenger to and from Lonavala, shared, “In the last 20 years, I have witnessed a number of accidents on this route, mostly when passengers are hit by stones thrown from the outside. There have also been issues of trains getting stuck along the route due to technical or other occasions — if this happens at a lonely spot now, the drones will help capture the exact location and help officials reach hapless passengers in case of any emergency.”
Initially, we will buy just two drones for around Rs 40 lakh. Next week, we will conduct trial runs, keeping one at Pune railway station and the other at Miraj railway station to cover nearby areas.