A runaway train carrying 1,000 passengers traveled for miles in India

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/09/a-runaway
By Amanda Erickson Amanda Erickson Foreign affairs reporter focusing on the post-Soviet world Email Bio Follow April 9

This report has been updated.

It was a scene right out of “Speed”: an out-of-control train traveling for miles in eastern India.

The train, en route from the western state of Gujarat to Odisha in the east on Saturday evening, careened seven miles before being brought to an emergency stop.

It all started when rail staffers set out to attach a new engine to the train. Workers neglected to apply the skid brakes, causing the train to keep rolling down. As engineers scrambled to clear the tracks of other trains, passengers in the runaway train screamed and prayed. Onlookers whipped out their phones to record as the train, with nearly 1,000 on board, whizzed through two stations.

Finally, the engine-less train was stopped. Operators applied the emergency hand brake. Railway staffers also used wooden wedges on the tracks to bring the train to a halt, according to Reuters.

“For us, safety is paramount,” Jaideep Gupta, a divisional railway manager in the Indian Railways, told reporters. “There is no compromise of safety.” He announced a new safety drive in response to the incident. Railway authorities also suspended seven employees and opened an investigation.

No passengers were injured, and the train reached its final destination two hours late.

Trains in India are notoriously dangerous. In 2015, 30,000 Indians died in rail accidents, according to the latest available data. In August, at least 23 people were killed and 40 injured after an express train derailed near Khatauli, a city in northern India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised $134 billion to upgrade India's railways. About $20 billion is intended for safety improvements.