Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Imagine: You're on a train, calm, relaxed, and enjoying your journey without a care in the world. After all, traveling by train is one of the safest ways to get somewhere. But what's that? You feel it accelerate, and soon it's already moving at breakneck speed, ignoring stop signs, stations, and other trains. You're pinching yourself in a futile attempt to wake up, but it’s no nightmare – you’re on a runaway train! Wait, that really happens? Sure does, and there are plenty of real cases, like that of train #1908. It was a cold winter night on January 11, 2004 when the 5,000-ton freight train was moving along the main Volkhovstroy 2 line in Russia’s northwestern Leningrad region, where Saint Petersburg is located. Even though everything seemed to be in order at that moment, just a couple of hours before, it looked as if the train wouldn't be able to start its journey at all. (Perhaps that would’ve been for the better given how things would turn out later…) The thing is that two people were supposed to arrive at the train yard that night: 31-year-old engineer Eduard and his 24-year-old assistant Alexander. But when it was time for their shift to begin at 11pm, the engineer was nowhere to be seen. After waiting for his co-worker for 15 minutes, the assistant decided to inform management. They eventually got hold of Eduard, and the engineer simply said that he’d overslept. He ended up arriving on site at 12:15am, making him 1 hour and 15 minutes late. Obviously, everybody was severely behind schedule now, so the engineer’s standard pre-journey medical check was done in a hurry. But his health readings were normal, and he was totally sober. Everything was fine, nothing out of routine here, except maybe the fact that instead of his uniform, the man was wearing a suit and tie, as if he was going to some important event. But nobody seemed to find that odd… And why would they? After all, the engine driver, although quite private, was a disciplined worker. He was just your normal guy, liked football and hockey. Perhaps he just had a wedding or something to go to after work, and he wouldn’t have time to change. Who knows? In any case, after the doctors gave him the green light, the engineer was ready to go. He climbed up into the cab, and that's when his assistant noticed another oddity. Eduard didn't put a new tape into the train's speedometer, which was a serious violation of the rules. But when asked, Eduard assured his partner that everything was ok and started the locomotive. It left the train yard at 12:42am and headed for its first station, where it got connected to 58 loaded cars. After the train left the loading station, the engineer broke protocol once more by refusing to check if the brake system was working correctly. Again, they were critically behind schedule, so nothing seemed too alarming at first. But then… As the train came toward the railway haul Volkhovstroy 2 – Kukol’, the station operator reported that there was another train approaching the station. Train #1908 was supposed to make way for the other locomotive and wait for it to pass. Alexander the assistant confirmed receiving this information, and the train started to slow down. But within seconds, the younger man screamed in horror when the engineer hit the controls to accelerate! When Alexander tried to bring his co-worker to his senses, the much stronger engineer answered back with physical threats. Desperate, the assistant realized that there was nothing he could do to prevent what was sure to become one of the most terrible railway disasters in history. By that time, the engineer had already switched off the cab signaling, which was supposed to inform him about the maximum speed allowed on the track. At 2:58am, the train blew through the red light at Kukol’ station, careened on a totally unscheduled route, and dashed toward the main track. No one could contact the two men inside – the train’s radio receiver had been switched off. It was gaining speed, now reaching 60 mph (100 kph). Horror-stricken Alexander couldn't do a thing to stop his partner. Eduard, obviously, had lost his mind. Everything changed at Valya station. At 3:02am, when the runaway had already blown through the previous stop at Myslino, the Valya station operator came up with the idea to cut the power on the line. It was done just seconds before the multi-ton train sped past his station. Even though the electricity had been successfully cut off, the train kept gaining speed because it was going downhill. Luckily, this descent turned into a steep incline about 5 miles (8 km) down the way, and the train's speed started to drop. At 3:45am, the train finally lost its forward momentum and came to a stop. Alexander the assistant immediately saw his only chance to escape. He jumped out of the cab and rushed toward the nearest station to report the incident. Good thing he got out when he could because the train then started to roll back toward Valya station! Remember, it was now on a pretty steep hill. Naturally, the engineer didn't apply the brakes, so the train rolled another 1 mile (1.6 km) in the opposite direction before it came to a halt, this time for good. When the police got to the train at 4:14am, they discovered the engineer on the floor, completely out of it. The delusional man was taken to the hospital for mental health treatment. It was a shocking diagnosis, given that he’d passed his previous mandatory psych evaluation in 2003. Well, in any case, thanks to some fast thinking on that station operator’s part, this incident didn’t turn into a catastrophe. Had the train continued its crazed path to destruction, it would’ve made it to the town of Tikhvin, population: 60,000. Phew! What a story! But I’ve got another one for you, and this runaway train might sound a little more familiar. Ever heard of the “Crazy Eights” incident? It happened on May 15, 2001 in northwest Ohio. Locomotive #8888 (hence the nickname) was moving a string of 47 freight cars on the Walbridge – Kenton line. Twenty-two of the cars were full, with two of them containing thousands of gallons of an extremely hazardous and combustible industrial chemical: molten phenol. If a person inhales or digests this stuff, or if it comes into contact with the skin, the consequences won’t be pretty. Things were going smoothly until the train's 35-year-old engineer noticed that one switch was strangely misaligned. The man decided that since the train was moving quite slowly, he’d have more than enough time to get down, fix the switch, and climb right back up into his cabin. But as it turned out later, that wasn't a great plan whatsoever. Before the engineer left the cab, he’d set the wrong brake. In other words, he didn’t hit the one that would keep all the cars locked in place. But that wasn't the only problem. When the man had applied the brakes, he automatically disabled the dead man's switch. This switch can cut the engine power and stop the train if something were to happen to the operator. But these circumstances wouldn't have led to such a huge ordeal if it hadn't been for the last, dire mistake. When the engineer tried to switch a special brake that would’ve slowed the train down to a crawl, he accidentally set the engine not to brake but to accelerate! So, here’s the situation: you’ve got a super heavy freight train with hazardous chemicals, one functioning brake that’s certainly not powerful enough to stop the whole train, and the only human operator is about to disembark. Hmm, let’s see what happens, shall we? When the engineer got to the ground and aligned the switch, he immediately tried to get back on board. But the locomotive was already speeding up. The train dragged the man for about 80 feet (25 m) before dumping him on the ground and rolling out of the yard to start its 65-mile (105 km) journey. On the one hand, the engineer was luckily mostly unscathed. On the other hand, a stray train was running south at a speed of 51 miles per hour (82 kph) with no one at the controls! You can imagine the turmoil that started as soon as the authorities found out about the runaway. At first, they tried to stop the train with the help of a portable derailer, but these attempts failed. Then the police started to shoot at the emergency switch, which serves to cut off the fuel supply. That didn’t work either because the switch had to be pressed for at least a few seconds before the fuel-starved engine would shut down. It was then when dispatchers came up with a brilliant idea. Locomotive #8391 would wait in ambush for the runaway #8888 to approach. There were two crewmembers on that train: engineers Jess Knowlton and Terry Forson. When the two of them saw the speeding runaway, the chase ensued. Luckily, Knowlton and Forson managed to couple onto the freight train's rear car and began to slow it down. As soon as the runaway's speed dropped to 11 mph (18 kph), engineer Jon Hosfeld, who’d been waiting up ahead, managed to climb into the cab and shut down the engine. Later, it turned out that the heat and friction had completely destroyed the brakes on #8888 after they’d been in use during the whole trip. Even though this incident gave everyone involved and the public quite a scare, it did end well. And, boy, talk about teamwork makes the dream work! Have you ever heard about any other runaway trains? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then give this video a like and share it with a friend. But hey now, don't start uncoupling from us just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to check out. All you have to do is pick the left or right video, click on it, and enjoy! 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