The Railway Watch & Ward had its Origin as long as 1882 when the Railway Companies then in existence appointed their own Chowkidars for each Department. This arrangement was found to be on the whole fairly satisfactory till 1918 when with an increase in traffic there was a steep rise in the incidence of thefts of goods entrusted to Railways for carriage which led to the Government of India to appoint a committee to enquire into causes thereof and suggest a remedy.
Acting on the Committee's recommendations, most of the Class I Railways reorganized their Watch & Ward as a separate unit under a superior officer. But this too proved inadequate, and in the situation coming in the wake of the Second World War, losses due to thefts and claims that had to be paid by Railways assumed such size as to need serious attention. This situation was not peculiar to Railway premises only but was a part of the general crime situation in the country. The Watch & Ward units were found to be hopelessly inadequate for the purpose for which they were intended.
The Government of India, therefore, instituted a special enquiry through Director, Intelligence Bureau (Ministry of Home Affairs) who in his report in 1954 forcefully brought out the necessity of organizing the Watch & Ward on a statutory basis. The Railway Board also appointed a Security Adviser to the Railway Board in July, 1953 to work out the details for the reorganization of the Watch & Ward department. It was decided in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs that there should be an integrated well organized force on the model of the Police with adequate supervisory staff specially trained to meet the particular aspects of crime that were relevant to Railway property to work in the particular aspects of crime that were relevant to Railway property to work in close collaboration and act as a second line to the States Police with whom, under the Constitution, policing on Railways rested. This led to the R.P.F. Bill for the better protection and security of Railway property being passed into the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957 (No.23 of 1957)
The RPF Act, 1957 was modified by Parliament vide Act No.60 of 1985 on 20 September 1985 for the constitution and maintenance of the Force as an Armed Force of the Union. For carrying out the purposes of the Act, RPF Rules 1987 was framed.
Since the various State Governments were busy in attending to their local problems they were not able to concentrate on the Railway front. As such the Union Government felt the necessity to deploy the RPF for the Security of the traveling public. Towards this direction the Parliament amended the RPF Act vide No. 52 of 2003, on 23 rd December 2003 where in the responsibilities of RPF was extended from Railway property to Railway passengers and Passenger Area.
The RPF at the all India level is headed by Director General, Railway Protection Force, Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, Rail Bhavan, New Delhi. Shri Sanjay Chander, IPS is the present Director General of Railway Protection Force