Two alert loco pilots averted a crash after the passenger train they were handling was wrongly directed towards an emergency track with dead-end barriers due to a mix-up in signalling at Kasganj railway station in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday night.

Kasganj-bound Agra Fort passenger was packed with people who were asleep when it was directed to the emergency track — used to force-stop rail engines in case of emergencies — at around 10 pm on Wednesday.

“Prima facie, it appears that the mix-up occurred because of wrong signalling,” public relations officer (PRO) Rajendra Singh said.

Senior railway officials have initiated an investigation into the matter. “The exact cause will only be deduced after investigation,” Singh added.

The train was later reversed and put on the right track. The loco pilots informed the station master, Kamal Singh, who was in charge of signals, about the incident while senior officials in Izzatnagar, Bareilly were also informed.

Kamal Singh declined to comment.

“A four-member team headed by senior divisional safety officer and three others have been tasked to investigate the matter. The team has been asked to submit their report at the earliest,” said the PRO.

Apart from the safety officer, the team also comprises officers from signalling and other technical departments.

The team members recorded the statement of the station master and other officials on Thursday.

A senior official privy to the investigation said, “It is a case of gross negligence. Though the train didn’t have enough acceleration to cause major damage, the engine could have been destroyed and many passengers could have been injured in the incident.”