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Metro rail restarts helpline for women

Metro Railway has relaunched its helpline for women — 9007041908 and 9007041789 — following growing complaints of harassment and other crimes.

The numbers will put the caller in touch with the Metro Bhawan-based central security control, equipped with facilities that allow personnel to keep track of train movements and contact all the 24 stations instantly.

“As soon as a passenger tells the operator her location, the security office will alert the officers at the station from where the train has left and to the one it is headed so that the offender can be apprehended immediately,” said Rabi Mohapatra, chief spokesperson for the Metro.

Men can dial the second number (9007041789) if they face any problem in the Metro.

The hitch, however, is getting a call through in the underground sections where mobile phone connectivity is not available. “The helpline is quite reassuring but will it work in the tunnel and underground stations?” asked Mrinalini Guha, 26, who takes the Metro to commute from Girish Park to her office at Chandni Chowk.

Metro officials said the Global System Mobile for Railways (GSMR) has been installed at a cost of Rs 18 crore to offset the shortcoming.

The technology — primarily meant for communication between motormen and the control office — enables mobile service providers to set up their networks on Metro premises, including tunnels. The mobile phone companies will have to share revenue to enjoy the service.

The helpline was launched in October 2012 but drew little response because of poor publicity, a Metro official said.

The relaunch was better. White sheets of paper with the numbers printed on them were pasted last week above seats reserved for women, next to doors and alongside advertisement boards inside the coaches.

By March-end, Metro is expected to come up with a unique four-digit toll-free helpline, which will be easy to remember and access.

“In 2014, we will make sure that no woman passenger suffers any harassment on trains or platforms. We want them to know that we are there by their side,” the Metro official said.

The “resolution” stems from the fact that several cases of molestation, teasing, stalking and harassment dented Metro’s image last year. The first case happened as early as January 10 when a woman in her early 20s was harassed by a youth inside a coach while she was travelling with her brother. A week later, a 25-year-old woman heading for MG Road station was molested on a train.

In June, a 21-year-old college student caught her alleged molester, dragged him to the stationmaster’s office and got him arrested.

At present, Metro has 650 security personnel to guard its premises and check crimes.