Unmanned freight train travels 84 Kilometers, raises safety concerns


On February 25, a freight train at Kathua station in Jammu and Kashmir unexpectedly traveled 84 kilometers without a driver, finally coming to a stop in Punjab’s Mukerian district. The loaded diesel goods train, carrying 53 wagons of concrete, reportedly reached speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. Emergency brakes were applied in time, averting any mishap, and a video of the driverless train went viral on social media.

The incident occurred around 7 a.m. when the train, left unattended, started moving downhill towards Pathankot due to a slope. Both the loco pilot and assistant loco pilot were reportedly not on board the train as it gained speed and eventually stopped on a steep gradient near Unchi Bassi railway station in Punjab.

The train had made a scheduled stop at Kathua railway station for a driver change. Initial information suggests that the loco pilot had left the train after starting it but forgot to engage the handbrake, leading to the unintended journey.

Efforts to stop the train were unsuccessful until it was brought to a halt at the Unchi Bassi area near Dasuha with the assistance of drivers and staff from passenger trains. Fortunately, there were no damages or injuries reported.

An inquiry has been initiated to determine the exact cause of the incident. Prateek Srivastava, Divisional Traffic Manager, Jammu, stated that, prima facie, it seems the train started rolling down the slope gradient towards Punjab without the driver and his assistant. The inquiry will investigate the incident that occurred between 7:25 a.m. and 9 a.m..