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regular-article-logo Sunday, 03 March 2024

Northeast Frontier Railway announces 25kmph speed cap for trains on jumbo turf

The Dooars tracks, which connects Siliguri Junction with Alipurduar Junction, has claimed around 80 elephants in 20 years

Anirban Choudhury Alipurduar Published 01.12.23, 05:56 AM
A wild tusker crosses the railway tracks in Kalchini block of Alipurduar on Wednesday, the same location where three elephants had died after being mowed down by a goods train on Monday.

A wild tusker crosses the railway tracks in Kalchini block of Alipurduar on Wednesday, the same location where three elephants had died after being mowed down by a goods train on Monday. The Telegraph

The death of three elephants in the Dooars railway track on Monday has prompted the authorities of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to announce speed curbs on the section where the tragedy occurred.

On Monday morning, three elephants, including a calf, died on being rammed by a goods train while they were crossing the tracks.

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The Dooars tracks, which connects Siliguri Junction with Alipurduar Junction, has claimed around 80 elephants in 20 years.

“After Monday's incident, it was decided that trains would run at 25kmph between Rajabhatkhawa and Kalchini stations (both in Alipurduar district) round the clock. Also, the intrusion detection system, which passes an alert if any animal nears the tracks, will be installed in this section soon,” said Sabyasachi Dey, the chief public relations officer of NFR.

The speed restriction, introduced on Tuesday, helped save the life of another wild elephant on Wednesday afternoon, said sources.

On Wednesday around 3.40pm, a wild tusker was crossing the tracks at the same spot, pillar 154/7, where Monday's elephant deaths had occurred.

Watching the elephant from a distance, the loco pilots of the Sealdah-bound Kanchankanya Express pulled the emergency brakes and waited till it crossed the tracks and entered the forest.

“It was possible as the train was moving at 25kmph under the new instruction,” said a source.

Railway sources said the goods train, which rammed into the elephants on Monday, was running at around 80kmph and hence the loco pilots couldn’t stop the train.

“Earlier, there was a speed restriction of 30kmph from 5pm to 5am on some stretches of the tracks in reserve forest areas. But Monday's incident occurred around 7.15am. Keeping in mind the location, a speed limit of 25kmph round-the-clock was imposed in the section,” said a source.

Wildlife conservationists welcomed the speed curbs.

Animesh Bose, the programme coordinator of Himalayan Nature & Adventure Foundation, a Siliguri-based organisation, said speed curbs of trains in forest areas and animal crossing zones were a must. "On Wednesday, an elephant could be saved. It shows if trains truly run slow, such accidents will reduce,” said Bose.

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