On a momentous day marking the end of an era, the Railway Police Division (RPD), an integral unit of the National Police Bureau, will cease to exist from Tuesday, October 17. The RPD, which has been ensuring the safety and security of railway systems since 1894, will be assimilated into various wings under the National Police Bureau.
Originally initiated under the name Railway Security Unit during the rule of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the railway police undertook a series of transformations and reorganisations before evolving into the Railway Police Division. With outposts dotted across the country, the division has worked tirelessly to maintain order and safety within the vast and complex railway ecosystem.
The primary responsibilities of RPD officers range from supervising investigations related to the railway system, to fighting against criminal activities within its purview. The division exercises its jurisdiction over a sprawling railway network that encompasses over 450 stations, 4,000 kilometres of track and 5,000 plus railway crossings, ensuring the safety of more than 30 million passengers that throng these facilities annually.
Bracing the challenges of their duties, the dynamic workforce of over 600 personnel operates across 15 railway police stations, extended service outlets at 40 railway stations, and provides coverage to more than 240 passenger trains – freight trains excluded. In fact, each train journey is typically monitored by a pair of railway police officers assigned the responsibility of passenger safety.
The RPD operates under the jurisdiction of the Central Investigation Bureau of the Royal Thai Police. As per Pol Maj-General Chairop Junnawat, the final commander of the RPD, this division stands as the primary entity entrusted with the duty of guaranteeing security linked to the railway system in Thailand. It boasts a long track record of arresting criminals involved in various illicit activities, including drug trafficking and smuggling of tax-evading goods, who employ trains to transport their unlawful consignments.
However, following the disbandment of the RPD, the task of ensuring safety on trains will henceforth lie with the State Railway of Thailand. Reports suggest that the SRT may potentially recruit safety personnel to be stationed onboard passenger trains, substituting the role previously performed by the railway police.
This dissolution of the RPD represents compliance with the directives detailed in the National Police Act of 2022. Although no longer functioning as a standalone division, the invaluable work performed by these officers continues to resonate across Thailand’s railway infrastructure, ensuring millions of passengers reach their destinations safely day after day.