KOLKATA: Following the rise in elephant deaths on the killer tracks of North Bengal, the railways has decided to divert a train to another route. They have also assured the foresters to take up the doubling work between New Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar soon.
To start with, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has decided to run the Sampark Kranti Express via the principal NJP-New Alipurduar-New Cooch Behar route from September 1. Doubling work in this section will also be expedited, officials said.
"After a meeting with forest department officials in Rajabhatkhawa on Friday, a decision was taken to divert the train from its original route through the forested areas of the Dooars. A joint inspection will also be carried out along the Siliguri Junction-Alipurduar section to identify vulnerable spots where the tracks pass through elephant corridors. The tracks in these areas will be fenced off to prevent elephants being run over by trains," said Sugato Lahiri, CPRO, NFR.
According to him, the Railway Board will also be approached to allocate funds for doubling of the stretch between Ambari and New Alipurduar so more trains can be diverted to this route in the future. Though the proposal has been given a go-ahead, no funds have been allocated in the past Railway Budgets. Officials feel that the funds should be allocated in the budget to be tabled in Parliament in the next few days.
CCF (wildlife), north Bengal, Vipin Sood, who also attended the meeting, said that doubling of track in this section was their long-standing demand. "They have finally decided to shift a train and assured us to take up the doubling work soon," he said, adding that the forest department will also hold awareness sessions for the loco drivers in Alipurduar and Siliguri soon. According to him, officials of both the departments have assured one another of better cooperation in the days ahead.
In the wee hours of Tuesday, a Guwahati-bound special train ferrying Army jawans rammed into two jumbos — a mother and a calf — killing both on the spot. This took the jumbo death toll on this stretch to 20 since last year. The accident took place between Hasimara and Hamiltongunj near Madhu tea estate around 2am.
Apart from the safety of the jumbos, the conservationists raised the issue of passenger safety too, as the carcasses of the calf and its mother remained on the tracks for hours. The train got derailed in the collision and it took 12 hours to put it back on tracks.