Indian Railways To Introduce OTP-Protected Digital Lockers To Guard Goods, Parcel Trains Against Theft


According to the Railways, the basic idea is to have a secure system with only designated railway officials having the required provisions to open it up.

Opting for digital solutions to protect the parcels and goods wagons from theft, Indian Railways will soon come up with an OTP-based digital locker that can only be operated by designated staff.

The facility aims to prevent theft of items being transported in trains. The move entails less manpower, but more safety and protection to the goods and parcel transportation.

The initiative comes at a time when the national transporter is focussing to increase its modal share by carrying more cargo and parcel transport, to increase its revenue.

According to the Railways, it will soon introduce a smart One-time password (OTP)-based digital locking system in freight and parcel trains to prevent theft, pilferage or missing of any cargo or parcel.

These locks to be installed in each wagon will be a combination of physical and digital locking system, similar to what trucks engaged by e-commerce firms use.

The prototype is being developed in three-four divisions, including Howrah to prevent theft of cement, other goods and parcels in trains.

As per the new system, when the lock gets closed an OTP is sent to the concerned personnel’s mobile number. After reaching the destination the driver has to confirm the location by pressing the button in the lock.

The personnel’s OTP is verified and another OTP is sent to the driver’s mobile number to unlock the lock. The train will also be tracked and the location will be recorded.

If door tampers or collisions occur, an alert message will be sent to the official’s mobile number.

According to the Railways, the basic idea is to have a secure system with only designated railway officials having the required provisions to open it up.

Currently, the systems being developed by Centre for Railway Information Services (CRIS), the Railways software arm, is in an initial and experimental stage and being operational in three-four divisions.

It is still in the experimental stage and the lock system is yet to be finalised. Once it is finalised, it is to be launched aross all zones shortly.

At the moment the wagons are sealed and the seal is checked at every station. In case the seal is found broken at a station, necessary steps are taken to file a complaint and investigation starts between the two stations where the seal was broken.

This process needs a lot of manpower. An official has to check all this manually at each station.

However, the new locks will be equipped with geofencing and can be opened only at designated stations. So, if a train is stopped anywhere and someone tries to break it, they will fail. Also, this will save manpower as no official will be required to check the seal at every station. Without the OTP, it will not be possible to open these locks.

The digital service is likely to be installed in passenger trains with parcel wagons first.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) had registered 6,492 cases of theft of railway property in 2022, recovering stolen railway property worth Rs 7.37 crore with the arrest of 11,268 offenders under ‘Operation Rail Suraksha’.

This system is commonly used by trucks where a smart lock is provided, which is GPS enabled, allowing live tracking of the vehicle to reduce pilferage and thefts.