A gateman on patrol spots the flames and halts the train

Nine passengers died and over ten were injured after a sleeper coach of the Bandra - Dehradun Express caught fire around 2.30 a.m. on Wednesday, railway authorities said.

The fire reportedly broke in one of the sleeper coaches and then spread to three boogies of the train (S3,S4 and S5) around 2.30 a.m. The incident happened between Gholwad and Dahanu Road station in Thane district of Maharashtra around 170 kilometres from Mumbai. The injured were rushed to the local hospital.

Railway authorities say that the gateman of the train spotted the fire and alerted the guard who immediately halted the train.

The fire was brought under control within an hour and after the cooling operations were completed , the affected coaches were decoupled and the train commenced its further journey. The exact cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but preliminary reports indicate that a short circuit might be the cause of fire.

"Medical relief trains reached the spot from Valsad and Mumbai immediately after we learnt about the incident. The injured are being treated at local hospitals," western railway spokesperson told The Hindu.

The railway minister has ordered a probe into the incident and has announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakhs to the deceased families.

Western Railways have set up helpline numbers — 022-23011853 and 022-230073885 — to those seeking information on the train and passengers.

The other helpline numbers are – 022-67649632 – Dahanu Road; 022-26435756 - Bandra Terminus; 0261-2423992 - Surat; 011-23342954 & 1072 – New Delhi and 0135 2624002, 2624003 – Dehradun.

Time line

12.05 Dehradun Express departs from Bandra Terminus in Mumbai.

2.17 am - Dehradun Express reaches Dahanu Road station.

2.19 am - The train leaves the station. No fire is reported so far.

2.25 am - Gateman Jawahar Singh notices a thick layer of smoke emerging from the rear end bogies of the train at Gate no. 60, nearly eight kilometres from the Dahanu Road station. Mr.Singh alerts the station manager.

2.35 am - Train is brought to a halt around one and half kilometres from Gate no. 60.

3.30 am Fire is brought under control.Cooling operations are undertaken.

.30 am Six affected coaches are detached and the train resumes its journey further.