To tackle monsoon complications, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has started pre-monsoon preparedness and patrolling along the tracks. The patrolling will continue till 15 October, railway officials said on Monday.

More than 1600 personnel will patrol the 6400-km long railway tracks spread over the entire Northeast, West Bengal and Bihar for five months, it is learnt.

According to the railway officials, despite precautions, there have been occasions when bridges were washed out, embankments breached and landslides have occurred. To face such a situation and to carry out restoration within a minimum possible time, monsoon-reserved stocks of materials like boulders, sand, sandbags, and various pre-fabricated components of bridges are kept loaded in wagons and kept at strategic locations.

A total of 235 wagons have already been placed at 27 locations spread over the entire zone ready for movement at any time, the NFR said.

Additional reserve materials are also stockpiled at 162 more locations, it added.

NFR Chief Public Relations Officer, Pranav Jyoti Sharma, said the monsoons are challenging for the operations of the railways.

“The challenges come in the form of landslides, breaching of embankments, washout of bridges. The south-west monsoon brings 90 per cent of the annual rainfall (varying from 2000 to 5000 mm) to the region during April to late October every year. A detailed strategy is adopted to ensure that the tracks are protected and kept in good condition so that safety of passengers is not compromised,” he said.

“Pre-monsoon preparedness like stacking of materials as monsoon reserve, cleaning of drainage, and ensuring marking of danger levels in bridges has been completed. A total of 813 parties of patrolmen (each consisting of two persons) have been deployed to secure the tracks round the clock. The patrolling will continue till 15 October, depending on the weather forecast warrants,” he added.

According to him, these patrolmen will be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art equipment like GPS tracker, luminous jacket, raincoat and separate water-proof trousers, safety helmet with attachable miners light and safety shoes.

Every patrol party is provided with one ‘walky-talky’ and a mobile phone to communicate with the nearest station in the eventuality of any condition posing danger for train movement. They will also be equipped with fog detonators to alert train drivers, the NFR said.

“During night time, the entire track is patrolled twice from 08 pm to 11:30 pm and again from 12:30 am to 04 am. These patrolmen are monitored by five divisional control offices with the help of GPS trackers. Moreover, stationary watchmen are also deployed in vulnerable locations like areas susceptible to landslide, bridges where the water level is nearing danger level etc. Currently, 13 such stationary watchmen are deployed in the vulnerable location of the Lumding Division,” Mr Sharma said.