Cattle run overs affected 200 trains in the first nine days of October and over 4,000 trains so far this year, official data has shown.
The worst affected is the newly minted Mumbai-Ahmedabad Vande Bharat Express train which was launched on October 1. It suffered three run-ins with cattle this month, causing damage to its "nose".
Officials said the Railways has barricaded several areas around the tracks which are prone to such incidents, but it is difficult to cover long stretches as there are residential areas with homes on one side and farms on the other.
The Railways has also identified stretches which have recorded a high number of such cases and are in the process of fencing them. Work has been completed in 40 per cent of these sections, an official said.
"Railways is taking all efforts to reduce cattle run overs (CROs). We are pinpointing locations where a pattern is found. We visit such sites and ascertain the cause of frequent CROs. Sometimes, there are reasons which can be addressed, but other times no direct reason is found. Still, our teams visit nearby villages and get in touch with the sarpanches. We counsel the villagers about the repercussions of CRO.
"Sometimes, illegal passages are found to have been created across the tracks. Sometimes, fencing is required to be done over a patch," said Amitabh Sharma, Executive Director, Information and Publicity, Railways.
The identified stretches include sections in the North Central Railways and Northern Railways in the Jhansi Division between Virangana Lakshmibai Gwalior section, Prayagraj Division between Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay-Prayagraj section, Moradabad Division between Alam Nagar and Shahjehanpur and in the Lucknow Division between Alam Nagar and Lucknow.
North Central Railway zone, which saw more than 6,500 of the 26,000 cases of cattle run overs in 2020-21 is one of the worst-affected Railway zones. It covers 3,000 km of tracks and hosts parts of the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridors.
It includes divisions like Agra, Jhansi and Prayagraj, and is the gateway for trains from the east to reach the northern parts of India.
The Northern Railway zone recorded the highest number of cattle run over cases -- nearly 6,800 -- across the divisions of Moradabad and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Firozpur in Punjab, Ambala in Haryana, and Delhi, officials said.
Three of the five Vande Bharat trains pass through routes in these two zones.
"The Vande Bharat trains were designed to ensure that there are no severe damages to them due to CROs. This is why these premium trains have replaceable cone-shaped cover in the front portion which is made of fibre reinforced plastic to absorb the impact of a collision with cattle," an official said.
This cover costs the Railways around Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per piece and they are replaced within hours of a collision.
The national transporter has a basket of around 10 spares for these trains.
According to data provided by the Railways, trains affected by cattle run overs rose from 360 in January to 635 in September, with more than 22 trains being affected daily.
In the first nine days of October, 200 trains have been affected, taking the number to 4,433 for the year so far.
Cattle run overs can cause serious damage to trains, delay them and even cause derailment.
"The Railways takes a holistic view to know the cause. However, we again appeal to cattle owners to be vigilant and not to leave the animals near the tracks for grazing," Sharma said.
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