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9 Jul 2018

Train speed check on Dooars tracks

Fresh rail rule
TT, Alipurduar: The Northeast Frontier Railway has imposed a round-the-clock speed restriction on trains along a 15km stretch in the Dooars following the death of two elephants on the tracks on Friday.

C.V. Raman, Alipurduar divisional railway manager of the NFR, said on Sunday: "We have imposed a 24 hour speed restriction along a 15km stretch between Chalsa and Banarhat stations in the Dooars. For 10km, trains will run at a speed of 30kmph from 5pm to 5am, while along the remaining 5km stretch (including Friday's accident site), the trains will run at a speed of 30kmph for 24 hours."

The announcement comes after officers of state forest department and environmentalists expressed anguish over the speed of the train that had hit two elephants - a mother and its calf - on Friday. The passenger train was running at a speed of 80kmph or so when it knocked down the animals, they had said.

In the Dooars track, that connects Siliguri Junction with Alipurduar Junction, there is restriction in speed of trains (30kmph) on a number of stretches from dusk to dawn.

After the accident, foresters had claimed that they had passed information about the elephants in the area to the railways but no precaution was taken from their side.

The DRM, however, maintained that they had no prior information about movement of elephants near the track on Friday. "To ensure proper communication from the state forest department regarding elephant movements, we have formed a WhatsApp group," said Raman.

Forest officials, on their part, have also taken some steps to curb such accidents.

"Number of staff at Binnaguri wildlife has been increased for better vigilance on elephants. 'Airabaat,' a specially-designed vehicle to steer elephants into forests, has been brought in Binnaguri from Malbazar. As there are forest stretches on both sides of the track, our staff have been asked to be on alert and pass information to the railways at the earliest," said a forest official.

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