Simplifying Train Travel

Facts about Chain Pulling in train you never knew before!

Emergencies may arise anytime during a train journey. And at such times you would dearly want to stop the train or draw attention towards the crisis. The code of practice for train travel emergencies is: to stop the train, pull the chain! With the guard and loco pilot rooms at the extreme ends of the train, it is improbable for the passengers to rush to those rooms seeking help during their emergencies. Keeping this in mind, each train coach comes equipped with Emergency (or Alarm) chains which, when pulled, can bring a moving train to a standstill. While each of you might be knowing about the emergency chains, you might not be knowing about various facts regarding chain pulling. In this blog we would try to clear all doubts regarding chain pulling.

How does the train stop when somebody pulls the chain?

The alarm chains are connected to the main brake pipe of a train. This brake pipe maintains a constant air pressure, helping the train move smoothly. When the emergency chain is pulled, the air stored in the brake pipe escapes, through a small vent. The drop in air pressure leads to the slowing down of the train. The loco pilot quickly notices this drop in the air pressure and starts maneuvering the train. As the train runs on narrow rails, so it cannot be brought to a sudden standstill, as that could lead to imbalance causing derailment.

NOTE: A train running at a speed of 110 km/hr might stop completely within 3-4 minutes of the chain being pulled.

How many Emergency chains are provided in coaches?

emergency braking system in train

In the past, there used to be chains or either side of the coach walls (for ready use by the passengers). But, Indian railways has cut down on their numbers in the recent times (due to their misuse). Today, there is a single chain, mostly situated in the middle portion of every coach.


ALSO READ: Train Concessions you never knew about, Unknown RAC ticket rules

Can the loco pilot override the emergency braking system in train?

Yes, the loco pilot can override the emergency brake only in certain situations. There is a bit of history involved behind the overriding logic. In the olden days, when dacoits were a big threat, loco pilots were given clear instructions to override emergency brakes when passing through crime prone areas. But the rules have been changed somewhat today. If a present day loco pilot overrides the emergency braking system in train, then the person is answerable to the higher authorities for such an action.

How does the RPF know about who pulled the chain?

141 railway act

As soon as the alarm chain is pulled, the RPF personnel reach the coach within no time at all. This makes many wonder – how? Well, the train coaches are fitted with emergency flashers, situated on the side walls of the coaches. The flashers from the coach (in which the chain was pulled) are activated as soon as the emergency chain is pulled. A light also starts blinking and buzzing within the locomotive pilot’s controls until the Guard, Assistant Driver and RPF personnel reach the location of the chain pulling and are able to manually reset the chain. Once the chain is reset, the air pressure gradually comes back to normal and the train is ready to depart.

NOTE: While the emergency flashers can give away the coach where the chain pulling occurred, it cannot tell who pulled the chain. The RPF personnel can be seen questioning the passengers to know about the identity of chain puller.

What is the punishment for chain pulling?

Chain pulling, without valid reasons, is a punishable offence under Section 141 of the Indian Railways Act. According to 141 of Railways Act, if a passenger causes interference in the communication between the railway personnel in-charge of the train and the passengers, without any sufficient cause then the person would be held guilty. On being proven guilty the person shall be punishable with one year imprisonment or with a fine that may extend to INR 1,000.

NOTE: The minimum punishment when proven guilty must not be less than a fine of INR 500 (for the first offence) or imprisonment for three months (for second or subsequent) conviction.

Which is an acceptable condition to pull chain in train?

valid reasons for chain pulling

The emergency chain system was introduced to help out passengers during their emergencies. Some of the acceptable conditions to pull chain in train includes: a fellow passenger drops from the moving train, fire in the train, family member left behind at the station, boarding with an older or differently abled person at a station where the stoppage time is insufficient, medical emergencies (when a passenger within the coach needs urgent medical help), safety emergencies (events like robbery, dacoit raids, snatch-and-run, etc.). Other instances of emergencies can be held as valid reasons for chain pulling only after evaluation by the competent railway authorities.

NOTE: Pulling the chain to delay the departure of a train for a passenger who is yet not onboard is a punishable offence.

Can chain pulling lead to any physical damage on the train?

condition to pull chain in train

If the emergency chain is pulled while the train is in slow motion than there will be no damage caused to the train. While on the contrary, if the chain is pulled while the train is running at top speed then there is a high probability of train derailment. Furthermore, sudden halting of a train (due to chain pulling) can start a chain reaction. It not only delays the train you are onboard, but also delays the next trains travelling along the same line.

Trivia: A train tragedy caused by chain pulling

Gare de Lyon


One of the biggest train accidents in the French railway history was caused by reckless train chain pulling. On June 27, 1988 a Gare de Lyon terminal bound commuter train crashed into another stationary train. In this accident 56 lives were lost. Just a few days prior to the accident there was a change in the time table of the train in question here. This meant that the train now did not have halts at some of the wayside stations. So, when the train was pulling away from one such wayside station, one passenger decided to pull the chain. As the train abruptly slowed down, this passenger leaped off the train. But the train could not control its momentum and crashed soon after. So, before you pull the chain, always think again for your act could prove costly for others!

15 thoughts on “Facts about Chain Pulling in train you never knew before!

  1. Abhishek verma

    Thanks for the information. But I have a question if I am traveling in train and suddenly my station cross behind then can I pull chain. Or not. Or it will be punishable

    1. RailYatri

      Hello Abhishek,

      If the train does not stop at a station where it has a scheduled stop, then you are well within rights to pull the chain. But if you are trying to stop the train at a station where it does not have a scheduled stoppage, then you would be punishable.

      1. Hitesh

        Sir if a train is already running late and by chance someone else pulled the chain where the train doesn’t have stoppage. If another person gets off the train seeing this scope (but this person has not pulled the chain or even was not present in the coach where the chain pulling was done). Would the person getting off be punished by the railway police?

        1. RailYatri

          Hello Hitesh,

          It is hard to predict so many coincidences. However, if you get off the train when the chain is pulled you will become the first suspect. But if you can convince the TTE or RPF then you they will get busy in finding the real culprit.

  2. Ashish katyal

    Sir I was travel with my friend from Delhi to amritsar we got late however I managed to get into train he was left behind pantry people asked me to pull chain train stopped at station itself when Rpf question I told them yes I did it they filled a case against me I haven’t done this in past n did not know the percussion please help


    Super.. lot of information…Thanks for your information… And supporting Indian railways.

  4. Rk chhonker

    It’s very nice information for us , but I on one instance the loco pilot did not stop the train even after the chain was pulled and the air pressure dropped. I think the loco pilots should be directed to stop train when the chain is pulled. I have seen a person fall from moving train as he believed that the train would stop after chain pulling. There are many instances where the train does not stop after pulling the chain. The mechanism should be fixed.

  5. a k agarwal

    My fellow passenger is old person and on lower birth and his son left behind at station and train started.
    That passenger requested me to pull chain to stop train as his son hasnot boarded the train. i am on uppet birth.
    my question is :
    in this situation if i pull chain in view of that the old fellow passenger cannot pull chain due to his age, will i be punished.( as the old fellow passenger son is not my family member but i have pulled chain considering his request and circumstances)

    1. RailYatri

      Hi Mr Agarwal, kindly read the blog once again we have mention about those situation where Chain Pulling is not counted as a crime. Thanks


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