More than 1,000 passengers aboard the Ahmedabad-Puri express and people on Titlagarh and Kesinga stations in Odisha were in for a shock of their lives when they realized the train was moving at 30 km/h without an engine.
— ANI (@ANI) April 8, 2018
Disaster was avoided with no loss of lives or injuries when railway officials managed to stop the runaway 22 coaches by putting stones on the railway tracks.
Five people including the driver and three carriage and wagon department employees in charge of coach repair and maintenance were suspended by the East Coast Railway (ECR) following the incident. Two officials were suspended late Saturday night, reports NDTV.
The express train full of passengers was on its way to Puri on Saturday. It reached Titlagarh junction around 9:35 pm, and the engine was detached so that it could be reattached at the other end. However, due to manual error or faulty skid brakes, the train started rolling back towards Kesinga before the engine could be reattached. The passengers took some time to realise, but people on the platforms looked in horror as the engine-less train started gaining momentum under the influence of gravity.
As reported by Hindustan Times, ECR PRO JP Mishra said, “When the engine is detached to be attached at the other end, the coaches should be secured with skids at the wheels. In this case, it appears that the skids have either not been placed or were placed improperly. The facts of the case will be known after a detailed enquiry.”
Due to the difference in gradient, the engine-less train first made its way to Kesinga station of Kalahandi, 10km in the wrong direction. The scared passengers were in for more danger as the train rolled towards a bridge on river Tel before again rolling towards Kesinga. The coaches were finally brought to a shuddering halt around 10:05 pm by the railway officials who put stones on the tracks, half an hour after the incident started.
A passenger on the train, Sanjay Paliwal, described the horrifying experience to Hindustan Times. “As soon as the engine was detached we got down from our bogies and boarded back. Soon after the train started moving. It took us some time to realise that there was no engine. Strangely there were no TTEs or RPF security guard. We tried calling railway officials but did not get any help. We tried to pull the chain, but the train did not stop,” Sanjay said.
Ahmedabad-Puri Express moves 10 kilometre without engine. it was supposed to be human error. They forgot to engage the skid brakes while changing engines. Imagine Modi ji ke bullet train jab ayenge to kya hoga!! pic.twitter.com/hUlChE4I9o
— Nirjhari Sinha (@NirjhariSinha) April 8, 2018
The Railway department has suspended the persons involved in gross negligence pending a strict inquiry. The general manager of ECR, Umesh Singh, said that whoever was found to be negligent in the investigation will face most stringent action for endangering lives. Alarmed by the incident, Railway Board has ordered a month-long safety drive across the country on stations regarding shunting. SS Mishra, the chief security officer of ECR, has called for a particular safety drive in all stations in ECR region where engines are detached and reattached on passenger trains.