For better security and surveillance in Indian Railways’ areas like station premises, yards, railway track sections, workshops, etc., the Mumbai Division of Central Railway zone has recently procured two Ninja UAVs. For drone flying, surveillance as well as for its maintenance, a team of four Railway Protection Force (RPF) staff, Mumbai has been trained. According to a press release issued by the Railway Ministry, these drones are capable of Real Time Tracking, Video Streaming, as well as they can be operated on Automatic Fail Safe Mode. The extensive use of drones has been planned by the RPF for the purpose of Railway security.
So far, RPF has procured as many as nine drones at a cost of Rs 31.87 lakh at Central Railway, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, Modern Coaching Factory, and Raebareli. In the future, it is further proposed to procure 17 more drones at a cost of Rs 97.52 lakh. So far, as many as 19 RPF personnel have been trained in drone operation and its maintenance. Of them, four RPF personnel have received the licenses for flying drones. Besides, an additional six RPF personnel are also being trained.
According to the Railway Ministry, the drone deployment’s purpose is to provide a force multiplier as well as aid to the effectiveness of the security staff deployed. The drones can help in inspection of Indian Railways’ assets and safety of yards, car sheds, workshops, etc. Also, to launch surveillance on anti-social and criminal activities such as garbage throwing, hawking, gambling, etc., on railway premises, the drones can be used. Additionally, the drones can be deployed for data collection analysis that may prove to be very useful in those sections that are vulnerable, for safe train operations.
Moreover, at disaster sites, the drone may be pressed in service for helping in recovery, rescue, restoration as well as coordinating of efforts of various agencies. Also, to assess the encroachments on railway property, the drones are helpful while undertaking mapping of railway assets. The drones can also give vital inputs such as crowd magnitude, probable time of arrival, and dispersal during large scale crowd management efforts, based on which efforts on crowd regulation may be planned and executed. During the COVID-19 lockdown, drones were utilized to enforce lockdown and monitor the migrants’ movement.