Locomotive pilots have saved more than 100 elephants in Assam's Alipurduar division during 2018. According to the Press Release by N.F. Railway of Maligaon in Guwahati on 28th March, a lot of potential elephant fatalities have been prevented on account of various measures initiated by the Alipurduar Division of N.F.
Controlling the train as and when required when movement of an elephant herd was noticed near or over railway tracks has led to a significant drop in elephant-related accidents. One-hundred-and-fifteen such cases were registered in 2018, while the number varied from 119 in 2017 and 145 in 2016. This year, so far, only five such incidents have occurred where the drivers had to stop the train to clear the path for a herd of elephant passing by.
Apart from that, Alipurduar division of N.F. Railway has taken on various measures to avoid a train-elephant collision such as installation of Laser Speed Radar Gun to detect over-speeding cases in elephant zones, counselling of drivers and trackman to observe all permanent and temporary speed restrictions, fixing of buzzer with Honey-Bee sound at level crossing gates of vulnerable locations and signage boards by the Forest Department of the West Bengal government at identified elephant corridors to pre-warn drivers. Clearance of vegetation on both sides of the tracks has also been done on a regular basis keeping in mind the driver’s visibility.
Not only that, the Forest Department which is supposed to get pre-intimation of elephant movement from the field has posted personnel at the train control office at Alipurduar Junction so that the drivers can be informed immediately by the nearest station master. Construction of ramps, passages, underpass, overpass and fencings have also helped considerably in deterring casualties.
These initiatives have reduced accidents and casualties arising out of train-elephant collision to a great extent. This year, there have been no deaths of elephants and only incidents of drivers stopping and applying emergency breaks have happened.