The Northeast Frontier Railway(NFR) with its sincere efforts to avoid train-elephant collision has saved more than 140 elephants during the current year.
As per official information, there are 67 elephant corridors notified jointly in consultation with the forest department of the respective state in five divisions of NFR, 1 in Katihar, 22 in Alipuruar, 23 in Rangiya, 16 in Lumding and 5 in Tinsukia. it has been noticed that wild elephants often cross railway track through areas which are not notified as corridors.
NFR has instructed railway drivers to run the train with controlled speed through notified elephant corridor areas. “It is very difficult to control a train when the driver suddenly notices elephants on the railway track in areas that are not notified as elephant corridors,” an NFR statement read.
Besides, marking elephant corridors, NFR installed Laser Speed Radar Gun to detect over speeding cases in elephant zones. The train drivers have been asked to observe all permanent and temporary speed restrictions.
On the other hand, Railways with their ‘Plan Bee’ at vulnerable locations has drastically prevented trains from hitting elephants crossing tracks. ‘Plan Bee’ is a method of fixing a buzzer with Honey Bee sound at level crossing gates of vulnerable locations.
The staff of pantry cars, as well as train passengers, are being sensitized not to throw any eatable/leftover on or near the railway track so that elephants or any other animals don’t get lured to the track.
Signage Boards have been provided at all identified elephant corridors to the pre-warn driver. Clearance of vegetation on both sides of the railway track to improve the visibility of drivers. In the Alipurduar division, for quick exchange of information 25 watt VHF set with frequency of Forest Department have been provided at Rajabhatkhawa, Kalchini and Hasimara stations.
Forest department staff who are supposed to get pre-intimations of elephant movement from the field are posted at the train control office at Alipurduar division so that train drivers can be intimated immediately by the nearest Station Master to run the train cautiously due to movement of elephants.
Moreover, constructions of ramps, passage, underpass, overpass and fencings at various vulnerable locations have also helped avoid elephant casualty to a great extent. As per official records, in the current year till the filing of this report, there are 122 incidents where drivers had to stop the train to give path to herd of elephants crossing the railway track.
NFR further informed that the incidents of elephants crossing railway tracks are more common in the Alipurduar division and to some extent in the Lumding and Rangiya division of NFR. As per available records, in the Alipurduar division itself, there were 115 cases when elephants were saved during the year 2018 by controlling the train as and when the driver noticed the movement of elephant herd near or over the railway track.
It may be mentioned here that more than 165 wild elephants could be saved last year too due to the alertness of railway staff.
The figure of such cases when elephants were saved by driver stopping the train in the Alipurduar division was 119 during 2017. While it was 145 and 118 during the year 2016 and 2015. It may be mentioned here that, on the evening of October 28th, 2019 drivers of train no 75713 passengers stopped the train by applying the emergency brake when they noticed the movement of the elephant over track between Gulma and Sivok station of Alipurduar division.