While it operates limited commuter services for essential workers, the Central Railway’s Mumbai division has begun using Ninja drones for bolstering security and surveillance on its network. At least two criminals have already been apprehended red-handed in the midst of attempted thefts at railway yards.

Two Ninja unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been procured to keep an eye over large tracts of railway properties where manpower is limited, including station premises, railway track sections, yards and workshops.

These drones have an operational range of two kilometres and can fly upto 25 minutes at a stretch, with a take-off weight of upto two kilograms. They can capture HD images during daylight with real-time tracking, video streaming and automatic failsafe modes.

Staff obtain license

“A team of four staff from the RPF’s modernisation cell have been trained and obtained a licence for flying these drones. Drones are a cost-effective way to enable security,” said Central Railway chief PRO Shivaji Sutar.

The staff trained to use the drones would be operating them for the inspection of railway assets and ensuring safety of yards, workshops and car sheds.

“With the help of the drones, we can keep a watch on criminal and anti-social activities in railway premises like gambling, throwing of garbage and hawking. Two such criminals were apprehended on a real-time basis already – one in the Wadibunder Yard area and another in Kalamboli yard while they were trying to commit theft inside a railway coach,” Mr. Sutar pointed out.

Mapping of railway assets to assess the encroachments on railway property, crowd monitoring during critical situations, are the other instances wherein the drones would be used by Central Railway. Across Mumbai division, drone beats have been designed depending on the area to keep a watch on and the sensitivity of the area. The Railways hopes to deploy the drones during accidents or disasters as well.

“Vulnerable sections can be analysed for safe operations of trains. Besides, surveillance can also be done at disaster sites to help guide rescue operations,” Mr. Sutar said.

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