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NF Railways to install AI-enabled system

The success of a pilot project, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has decided to install an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Intrusion Detection System (IDS) in all elephant corridors in Assam and North Bengal in order to prevent the death of wild elephants due to train hits.

The IDS will help detect wild elephants approaching railway tracks and alert railway personnel to help avert jumbo deaths. 

The NFR on Monday signed an MoU with RailTel Corporation of India Limited, a PSU, for the installation of the system.

“The system is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and existing optical fibres will be used as sensors to identify movements of wild animals at locations and alert control offices, station masters, gateman and loco pilots. It uses a fibre optic- based acoustic system working on the principle of dialysis scattering phenomenon to sense the real-time presence of elephants on the track,” Chief public relations officer of NFR, Sabyasachi De said.

De said the AI-based software can monitor unusual movements up to a stretch of 60 km. “The IDS will also help in detecting rail fracture, trespassing on railway track and alert about disaster mitigation due to unauthorised digging near railway tracks, landslides near tracks, besides others,” he said.

The entire Northeast, Bengal and parts of Bihar fall under the NFR with its headquarters at Guwahati.  Death of wild elephants due to train hits, particularly on the tracks passing through forests in Assam and North Bengal has become a concern over the years. According to information available from the forest department in Assam and NGOs, at least 36 wild elephants have died due to train hits under the NFR since 2017.

However, the NFR said possible deaths of over 1,100 wild jumbos could be prevented due to several safety measures taken over the years.  De said the decision to install the IDS in all elephant corridors was taken after the success of a pilot project in the Chalsa-Hasimara section of the Dooars area under the Alipurduar division in West Bengal and between Lanka-Hawaipur section under the Lumding division in Assam.

“The pilot project has already been immensely successful in saving the lives of many elephants approaching railway tracks from being hit by trains,” De said in a statement.