Runaway freight train: Station master, three others terminated | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Runaway freight train: Station master, three others terminated

Mar 04, 2024 10:10 AM IST

On February 25, the train began moving, with no one at the controls, after the engineers forgot to engage the brakes when they halted at Kathua station, ostensibly for tea

The Indian Railways has terminated the services of four employees in connection with an incident in which an unattended freight train travelled 84km, with no one at the controls, from Jammu and Punjab last month, officials aware of the developments said on Sunday.

The terminated employees have been asked to vacate their quarters. (HT file photo)
The terminated employees have been asked to vacate their quarters. (HT file photo)

The station master of Kathua railway station Triveni Lal Gupta, engineers Sandeep Kumar (loco pilot) and Pradeep Kumar (assistant loco pilot) who were on duty, and pointsman Sh. Mohd Sami – all of whom were earlier suspended earlier – were removed from services for negligence after the 53-wagon freight train barrelled on for close to two hours on February 25.

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“The improper steps taken by station master Triveni Lal Gupta and the engineers could have led to loss of lives and property. He failed to fulfill his duties and that also resulted in a traffic jam,” one of the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.

“The traffic disruption caused by the incident further delayed almost eight UP trains and four DOWN trains,” the official added.

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On February 25, the train began moving, with no one at the controls, after the engineers forgot to engage the brakes when they halted at Kathua station, ostensibly for tea. No one was injured as railway officials sounded an alarm and cleared the tracks on the way while also closing off all rail crossings over roughly two panic-filled hours.

The train was halted at Uchi Bassi station in Punjab after railway staff placed sand bags and other track impediments before an uphill gradient helped bring it to a halt.

The termination communication, seen by HT, said that despite repeated counseling by supervisors and officers, such shortcuts were adopted at Kathua which should not go unpunished.

“The station master and the loco pilot failed to carry out the instructions issued to him from time to time to avoid stabling,” a second official aware of the developments said.

A third official said that the terminated employees have been asked to vacate their quarters.

HT reached out to a railway spokesperson for a comment but did not get one immediately.

The train began moving because the station is at a slope, and the gradient continued for miles, which meant the 53 wagons and the two diesel locomotives gathered enough momentum to reach what officials estimated was close to 100km/hr.

A preliminary inquiry report, accessed and reported earlier by HT, said the train rolled “down from line number 3 towards Pathankot Cantt was no proper stabling done by loco pilot Sandeep Kumar, assistant loco pilot Pradeep Kumar and pointsman Sh. Mohd Sami”.

A pointsman is a trackside staffer responsible for a number of tasks, including ensuring parked trains are secured in place and track points are correctly aligned.

The report also blamed station master Gupta. The two men who helmed the train till Kathua left the engine at the end of the shift, it found.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.

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