GUWAHATI: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has taken several precautionary steps to deal with any kind of untoward incident during the upcoming monsoon season.
The mobilization was carried out in the last few months over the entire jurisdiction of the NFR having more than 6,400 kilometers of railway tracks spreading over the north-eastern states of Assam, Tripura, Manipur and parts of West Bengal and Bihar.
The monsoon season is quite challenging for the railways.
The NF Railway serves a difficult terrain close to foothills of Lower Himalayan ranges, carved by turbulent streams, fed by heaviest rainfall reaching up to about 7,000 millimeters in a year.
The Southwest monsoon period normally starts from the mid of May and continues till mid of October every year except in the Lumding division where the monsoon period starts from mid of April.
Due to the heavy rainfall, landslides, rain cuts in embankments, overflowing of bridges occur frequently.
A detailed strategy is being adopted to ensure that the tracks are protected and kept in a good condition so that safety of passengers is not compromised.
For this, the NFR has formulated a detailed strategy for the safety of railway tracks.
As part of preparations before the monsoon, collection of materials at sensitive places, cleaning of the drainage system, cleaning of waterways of bridges, marking danger levels in bridges have been completed.
While all preventive measures have been taken, the NF Railway has also deployed patrolling teams to continuously watch more than 6,400 kilometer of tracks under its jurisdiction for any defect that may arise due to a heavy rainfall.
Patrolling teams have been deployed to keep the railway tracks safe.
This team keeps a vigil on the tracks on the basis of rainfall alerts issued by the Meteorological Department.
These teams are equipped with the latest and state-of-the-art equipment like Global Positioning System (GPS) tracker, luminous jackets, raincoats, separate waterproof trousers, safety helmets, safety shoe high and powerful search flashlights.
Mobile phones have also been made available with each patrolling team to provide information to the nearest railway station about any situation that may affect the normal movement of trains.
In addition to these teams, stationary watchmen have also been appointed on sensitive areas like sites that are prone to landslides, and bridges where water flows near the danger level mark.
Despite these precautionary measures being taken, there are occasions, when bridges are washed out, embankments are breached and landslides occur.
To face such a situation and to carry out restoration work within a minimum possible time, materials like boulders, sand, sandbags, and various pre-fabricated components of bridges are kept loaded in wagons and placed at strategic locations.
More than 7000 cubic meters (cu m) of boulders and stones are kept loaded in wagons at various locations to meet any emergency requirement.
Moreover, about 27,300 cu m of boulders, 12,600 cu m of quarry dust and 3,000 cu m of silt are kept as monsoon reserve stock on ground.
Though it is hard to predict and avoid a natural calamity, the NFR is fully prepared to face the challenges posed by heavy rainfall in the region during the monsoon season so as to ensure all-weather connectivity and safety of the passengers.