A runaway train led firefighters in southern Germany on a dramatic chase after the train’s engine went up in flames. Emergency officials near the village of Strass had been called to stop a train fire when the burning train started rolling downhill, picking up speed as it traveled toward the border of Austria. The diesel engine was driverless at the time, according to the Associated Press.
The train had gone up in flames near Strass just a few hours before dawn, and its conductors managed to safely escape. The train was sitting along the route between Munich and Freilassing as it burned, but sat on a sloping track. That likely explains why the engine started to roll away shortly before firefighters arrived, which then led to a mad dash to stop the burning train. The Freilassing Volunteer Firefighting Company caught some of the events on video, and news outlets broke down the details of the “ghost train” chase (video in German):
Firefighters followed the burning runaway train as it rolled a few miles, going faster and faster on its way to the Austrian border; the fire brigades were coordinating with railway officials along the way. The AP says the incident took place at 3:00 a.m. local time, so there weren’t many drivers on the road to make the “hot pursuit” any more risky than it already was.
An emergency manager with the railway was able to switch the burning train onto a side track just as it reached the station at Freilassing. And rail workers were able to finally stop the “ghost train” by using a buffer before it crossed the border. The train had derailed slightly in the struggle to stop.
Once the burning train was immobilized, however, firefighters were able to put the fire out. According to the Bavarian Red Cross, no one was hurt or injured during the chase, but the Freilassing station had to be shut down for a few hours following the “ghost train” chase to clear the railway for passage.