Railway Protection Force

  • An RPF constable has been held for allegedly killing four people on board the Mumbai-bound 12956 Jaipur-Mumbai Superfast Express.

This topic of “Railway Protection Force” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


  • The Railway Protection Force (RPF) is an armed force tasked with the protection of railway property, passenger areas, and passengers.
  • It was set up under the 1957 Railway Protection Force Act, which was enacted to establish and regulate an armed force of the Union for better protection and security of railway property and related matters.
  • The force has been modified through the Railway Protection Force (Amendment) Act, 1985.
  • The RPF’s current size comprises more than 74,000 personnel.


  • The RPF operates under the Railways Ministry and is led by a Director-General.


  • The origins of the RPF can be traced back to the “Watch and Ward” system, which was used by private railway companies during the colonial period.
  • Inadequacies in controlling theft of railway assets and consignments were identified in the 1940s, leading to the formation of a committee in 1954 under the Director of the Intelligence Bureau.
  • The committee recommended the reorganization of the “Watch and Ward” into a statutory body, which resulted in the enactment of the 1957 RPF Act, later modified in 1985 and 2003.
  • The Government Railway Police (GRP), on the other hand, is part of the district police force and reports to the state government.
  • While the GRP works alongside the RPF, its responsibility primarily lies in the prevention and detection of crime on railways, and its remit does not extend to protecting railway property.
  • The GRP is also tasked with maintaining “order” at railway stations and in trains within their jurisdiction. This refers to controlling passenger traffic, maintaining order on platforms, at booking offices, entrance and exit gates, managing vehicular and other traffic in station precincts, preventing overcrowding in carriages, arresting those committing nuisances, and providing assistance to railway officers and the traveling public.

The RPF and GRP ideally complement and strengthen each other’s operations in ensuring the safety and security of passengers and railway infrastructure.

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