In a scene somewhat similar to Hollywood movies Runaway Train and Unstoppable, an unmanned train engine covered 29 km from India to Nepal on Monday.
The diesel locomotive covered the distance from Jaynagar in Bihar on the Indo-Nepal border to Janakpur, the mythical birthplace of Lord Ram’s wife Sita in Dhanusha district of Nepal, in 45 minutes.
Operated by Nepal Railways Corporation, the Jaynagar-Janakpur narrow gauge stretch is part of the only functional train network in Nepal covering 53 km used by passengers to reach the sacred Hindu site.
Though the passenger train takes two and half hours to traverse the distance at 10 km per hour, on Monday the engine sped at over 50 km per hour as railway officials watched in horror.
It chugged past many bridges, pools and seven stations for 45 harrowing minutes before being diverted to an unused track in Janakpur railway station and brought to a halt by placing obstructions.
The train’s driver had got down at Jaynagar to quench his thirst while leaving the engine on neutral transmission mode when it started moving.
Despite authorities learning about the incident immediately, they failed to stop the engine due to lack of manpower and equipment. It covered three kilometers before entering Nepal.
“The episode could have ended in a serious crash if we had not placed obstructions,” Maniraj Khatiwada, station manager at Janakpur told The Kathmandu Post.