Tuesday, April 30, 2013

High speed 'ghost' train puzzles Indonesian railway workers

SEMARANG, Indonesia - Railway workers at Poncol station in Semarang could not believe their eyes when a locomotive, ready to draw a Jakarta-bound train at dawn on Sunday, moved off with the drivers nowhere to be seen on the roaring engine.
Panic reigned when nobody could run fast enough to catch the 3-year-old loco as it accelerated wildly westward.
News arrived 15 minutes later that the 80-ton engine had gone off the rails near Kaliwungu station, 17 kilometres to the west, having crushed a goat pen, ploughed through fishponds and smashed the roofs of three houses before coming to a stop in a paddy field.
Two people were slightly injured by the flying tiles when the loco hit the lower part of their roof. Along the way, it passed through at least eight railway crossings and two substations at an estimated speed of 100 kilometres an hour.
Catastrophic incidents were avoided partly because the authorities in Semarang contacted their colleagues in Kendal who redirected the locomotive onto unused tracks, spokesman for the Semarang chapter of the public railway operator (KAI), Surono, said.
"Our technicians were doing some last-minute preparatory checks when the loco started moving," he said as quoted by tempo.co. "This is strange and we are investigating what went wrong."
He said the tracks from Poncol to the west slope downward but why the unmanned engine accelerated so fast remained unknown.

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