NEW DELHI: India’s Railway Ministry on Sunday ordered a high-level probe and suspended seven officials for negligence after 22 coaches of a passenger train travelled backward for nearly 10km without an engine in the eastern state of Odisha.
The incident took place late Saturday night after the engine of Ahmedabad-Puri Express was detached at Titlagarh station in Odisha for attachment at the other end of the train.
All the passengers on the train were fortunately safe, 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,” railway official JP Mishra told the media.
“A probe has been ordered into the incident. The facts of the case will be known after the detailed inquiry,” he added.
The state-owned Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest train networks, crisscrossing the country from north to south. It operates some 9,000 passenger trains and carries nearly 23 million passengers every day.
However, train disasters are quite common in India as much of the colonial-era rail infrastructure is out of date. A number of people are killed in train accidents, mostly derailments, across the country every year.
In February this year, the Indian Railways decided to sack in one go some 13,000 railway employees in a move aimed at sprucing up its performance and giving encouragement to sincere staffers.
In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pledged 137 billion US dollars over five years to modernise and expand the railways.