Seven railway men were suspended in connection with lapses that led to 22 coaches of an express train with passengers on board to travel 13 km without an engine in Odisha, a railway spokesman said on Sunday.
A possible disaster was averted after alert staff put stones on the track and brought the Ahmedabad-Puri Express to a halt late last night, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) spokesman said, adding all the passengers were safe.
While five railway personnel were placed under suspension this morning, two had been suspended soon after the coaches of the train rolled down the track at Titlagarh in Balangir district after detachment of the engine, he said.
Two engine drivers, three carriage repairing staff and two operating department employees were placed under suspension, he said.
The coaches travelled from Titlagarh station towards Kesinga in Kalahandi district after the engine was detached to be attached at the other end, the spokesman said, adding the section from Titlagarh towards Kesinga has a downward slope.
The incident happened apparently due to non-application of skid-brakes on the wheels of the coaches by the staff deployed there. According to rules, the staff should have put the skid-brakes, he said.
"When an engine is detached to be attached at the other end, coaches should be secured with wheel skid-brakes. In this case, it appears that skid-brakes were not placed properly. Facts will be known after a detailed enquiry," he said.
Divisional Railway Manager, Sambalpur, Jaideep Gupta has ordered a probe by divisional heads of different departments, the spokesman said.
Soon after the incident, an engine was sent from Titlagarh to ferry the coaches back, he said.
ECoR General Manager Umesh Singh said immediate corrective measures will be initiated and strict action taken against those responsible for the incident.
Strictest action will be initiated against any negligent act endangering safety of trains. Safety is non-negotiable and cannot be compromised. Strict action will be taken against any railway employee found guilty, Singh said.
In the wake of the incident, ECoR Chief Safety Officer S S Mishra has advised a special safety drive at all stations in the zone where engine reversal of mail and express trains takes place and also at terminals where trains terminate, the spokesman said.
Some of these stations are Talcher, Bhadrakh, Angul, Paradip, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Sambalpur.