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India

Speed 3! Out-of-control Indian train carrying 1,000 passengers travels for miles because workers forgot to fit it with brakes

Workers had fitted the train with a new engine – but neglected to include skid brakes, causing it to careen through two stations without stopping

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 1:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 2:15am

In a scene that could have come from a Hollywood movie, a train carrying 1,000 passengers raced out of control for seven miles before it could be brought to an emergency stop. 

It all started when rail staff set out to attach a new engine to the train, which was due to arrive from the western state of Gujarat to the eastern state of Odisha on Saturday evening. 

Workers had neglected to attack the skid brakes to the locomotive, causing the train to keep rolling inexorably forward, even as engineers scrambled to clear the tracks of other trains and passengers on board screamed and prayed. 

Onlookers whipped out their phones to record as the train, with nearly 1,000 on board, whizzed through two stations.

Then, some luck: the train came to a hill.

The tug of gravity slowed the vehicle enough that operators could apply the emergency handbrake. 

Meanwhile, railway staff placed wooden wedges on the tracks, bringing the train to a crunching halt.

“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.

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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. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised $134 billion to upgrade the railways. About $20 billion is intended for safety improvements.