Puri-bound train travels 13km without engine, 7 railway officials suspended

Puri-bound train travels 13km without engine, 7 railway officials suspended. Photo: Twitter

New Delhi: It could happen only in India. The already beleaguered Indian Railways witnessed an incident which could have proved to be a disaster, but thankfully no lives were lost. Ahmedabad-Puri Express, in which about 1000 passengers were travelling, moved 13 km in reverse direction without an engine attached to it. The incident took place when the Puri-bound train arrived Titlagarh, around 385km from Bhubaneswar, at 9.35pm on Saturday, said media reports.

Here, it was to reverse its direction to head to Puri via Sambalpur in a process called ‘loco or rake reversal’. As part of that, the engine was detached and re-attached to the other end of the train, while the coaches are held in place with the help of skid brakes on the wheels.

It is suspected that the skid brakes were not applied or did not work properly in this case, resulting in the coaches going off-route and rolling towards Kesinga in Kalahandi district, said media reports.

Finally, after the train travelled 13 km in reverse direction, without any engine, it was stopped using stones. The train had slowed down at a level-crossing by then.

Media reports said following the incident, the railways suspended seven employees.

The suspended staff are engine driver S Venkat Rao, assistant engine driver Sushant Singh, carriage and wagon department employees GS Panda, Lakha Kaspeta and P Bagh, and operating department employees Kanta Kharavel and Dharmendra Nihal. The railway ministry has sought a report from East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone within three days.

After a thorough check, an engine was attached to the train and it left Kesinga for Titlagarh at 12.35am. It arrived in Puri at 1.30pm, around five hours late.

Meanwhile, videos are circulating on social media showing people on a platform at Kesinga station screaming and gesturing at the passengers to pull the chain. However, no one was hurt in the incident but it caused panic among the passengers. They were initially not aware of anything amiss but grew alarmed when they realised that the train had left its engine behind.

Divisional railway manager (Sambalpur) Jaideep Gupta has also ordered an inquiry by a panel comprising divisional heads of different departments.