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Watch: Ahmedabad-Puri Express without engine rolls back 15 km in Odisha

The mishap occurred due to non-application of skid-brakes on the wheels of the coaches when the engine was detached at Titlagarh station. Seven railway employees have been suspended.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2018 07:26 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Train,Ahmedabad-Puri Express,Train without engine
The Ahmedabad-Puri Express, which started sliding back around 9.35 pm from Titlagarh station, was stopped by placing stones on the tracks half an hour later at Kesinga station.(ANI )

Twenty-two coaches of a train carrying hundreds of passengers rolled backward and forward for about 15 km when its engine was detached at a station in Odisha on Friday night.

The Ahmedabad-Puri Express, which started sliding back around 9:35 pm from Titlagarh station, was stopped by placing stones on the tracks half an hour later at Kesinga station, but not before giving anxious moments to the passengers on board. No passengers were injured during the 30 km/h free roll, although it caused a scare among them.

The mishap occurred due to non-application of skid-brakes on the wheels of the coaches when the engine was detached at Titlagarh station, East Coast Railway (ECR) officials 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,” said JP Mishra, ECR PRO.

Alarmed by the lack of safety procedures in Titlagarh mishap, Railway Board Chairman Ashwini Kumar Lohani today ordered a month-long joint drive by operating and electrical departments regarding shunting at all stations. Lohani ordered that during the drive, shunting staff and loco pilots/shunters would be intensively monitored and counselled. Chief Safety Officers would oversee the drive. At the end of the drive, general managers of each railway zones to give a report about their observations, actions taken and suggestions for improvement

The Puri-bound train had arrived at Titlagarh junction in Bolangir district of Odisha at 9.35 pm on Friday night after travelling 1,460 km from Ahmedabad city on Thursday evening.

From Titlagarh, the train was supposed to travel northwards to Puri via Bolangir station, but rolled southwards to Kesinga station of Kalahandi, located at a higher gradient than Titlagarh. The already scared passengers faced more harrowing moments when it suddenly rolled back another 7 km towards a railway bridge on river Tel after reaching Kesinga station. The bogies again rolled towards Kesinga station and stopped just outside after railway employees and some passengers managed to put stones on the track to slow down the speed.

“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,” said Sanjay Pediwal, a passenger.

Eight railway employees, including the two drivers of the train, were suspended pending a senior officer-level probe. “Strictest action would be initiated against the persons for any negligent act endangering safety of trains after an inquiry is over in next three days. If necessary more officials would be suspended,” general manager of East Coast Railway, Umesh Singh said.

Officials said the coaches were allowed to roll till Kesinga station as the section had a descending gradient and any intervention would have resulted in an accident.

“The level crossing gates in these sections were closed,” said divisional railway manager of Sambalpur, Joydeep Gupta.

The coaches were brought to a halt at 10.05 pm, half an hour after it started rolling. The railway officials sent another engine to Kesinga which pulled out the coaches at 12.35 am. The train finally reached Puri at 1.30 pm on Sunday, five and half hours after its scheduled arrival.

Chief safety officer of East Coast Railway, SS Mishra said a special safety drive would be undertaken at all stations in ECR zone where engine reversal of Mail/Express trains happen.

There have been numerous such instances of train engines travelling on their own. In November last year, an electric train engine in Maharashtra travelled on its own for 13 km without its coaches forcing a railway official to chase it on bike and bring it to a halt.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 10:27 IST