Last week, possibly due to driver negligence and failing brakes, several bogies from an express train headed to Puri from Ahmedabad rolled backwards for a dozen or so kilometres without their engine. Bystanders screamed at passengers to pull the train’s emergency brake. Disaster was avoided only when some quick-thinking railways employees put rocks on the tracks to halt the train’s momentum. The errant driver and other staff have already been suspended, with a railways spokesman indicating that “more heads are likely to roll”. Officials also announced an investigation into the incident and a month-long effort to reintroduce railways staff to relevant safety procedures. Indian Railways have improved their safety record substantially over the last financial year, recording the lowest number of accidents in over three decades.
Number of kilometres the train rolled backwards, having detached from its engine
Minutes the train travelled without its engine; its speed is unknown, though it slowed to a halt against some rocks
Rail accidents in FY2017-18; lowest number in 35 years. Down 29% from 104 accidents in 2016-17
Deaths in 586 rail accidents from 2012-13 to 2016-17; 238 deaths in 2016-17, highest in 17 years, leading NITI Aayog to suggest an independent Railway Safety Authority
Bogies with 1,000 passengers onboard; no injuries were reported
Employees suspended, including the train driver, in the aftermath of the incident
Positions vacant in railways ‘safety and maintenance’ as of April 1, 2017