Indian freight train travels 80km without a driver

Railway authorities have suspended six officials and ordered an inquiry

Although no one was injured in the latest incident, accidents are common on India's rail network mainly due to ageing infrastructure. Reuters
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Indian Railways is investigating after a freight train travelled 80 kilometres without a driver.

The goods train with 53 carriages carrying gravel started rolling downhill on the tracks in the hilly Kathua region of Jammu and Kashmir and was halted in Hoshiarpur district in neighbouring Punjab on Sunday.

It had picked up a speed of 100kph at one point and was brought to a halt by wooden blocks placed on the tracks.

The train reportedly started rolling off when the driver and assistant disembarked for a crew change in Kathua.

Indian Railways suspended six officials and ordered an investigation.

“An inquiry has been initiated to know the exact cause of the incident,” Prateek Srivastava, traffic manager for Jammu, said. "Prima facie, it seems that the train started rolling down the slope gradient towards Punjab without the driver and his assistant."

The train passed through five stations and all railway crossings on the route were immediately closed to prevent accidents, senior officer Gaurav Singh said.

Overhead power cables were also switched off and all service tracks were cleared to make way for the runaway train.

A video of the driverless freight train speeding through a station has gone viral on social media.

Mishaps are common on India's railway network, the world's second-largest, mainly due to ageing infrastructure.

In June, nearly 300 passengers were killed in a three-train crash.

Updated: February 26, 2024, 1:47 PM