A crowded passenger train in Patna, capital of the state of Bihar. A terse message from the Congress Party and indications that the Trinamool Congress could be dropped from India's ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has jolted the maverick West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Image Credit: Reuters

Patna: Hundreds of railway passengers in Bihar were in for a surprise when a train driver asked them to get out and push the vehicle to resume the journey after it got stuck in the “neutral zone”, a short length of track where there is no power in the overhead wires.

The incident took place between Banahi and Raghunathpur railway stations in Buxar district of Bihar on Thursday evening, disrupting the movement of 12 trains for about three hours.

Authorities said the Delhi-bound 13131 Kolkata-Anand Vihar Express had just left Banahi railway station in Buxar district when some passengers who were illegally travelling pulled the train’s emergency chain. Soon, the train came to a halt but it got stuck in the “neutral zone”. The driver of the train made every effort to get it out of the troubled zone but failed.

He then asked the passengers on board to get out and push to move the stalled train, so that it could touch the live overhead wires and resume its journey. The harried passengers pushed the train for about .04km.

In the meantime, someone passed on the message to the railway control room in Danapur, which is about 120km east of Buxar town, which directed the authorities concerned to detach the engine of another express train that was parked in the neighbouring Bihiya station in Bhojpur district and use it to push the electric train from behind. It was only then that the train touched the live overhead wires and resumed its journey.

This is the second instance in recent times that passengers have been asked to push a train. In 2007, passengers were asked to push a train, which was caught in the neutral zone, in the same district.

Emergency chain pulling by unauthorised passengers on trains has been a matter of serious concern in Bihar. They travel without tickets and get down by pulling the chain just before their stations to escape being caught by the police. However, police efforts have not yielded any results.