A major accident was averted on Tuesday night near Mumbai after drivers of an express train applied the emergency brakes just in time on spotting a long piece of metal rail lying on the tracks. 

The train halted just 30 metres away from the 7 metre-long rail weighing around 400 kg. 

The incident occurred between 10.30 and 11.00 pm when the Goa- Mumbai Jan Shatabdi carrying 700 passengers was on its way to Dadar station in Mumbai, reports The Hindu. 

The train's assistant loco-pilot Harish Chinchole spotted the long metal rail and applied the emergency brakes. He then alerted pilot Harendra Kumar, who also applied the brakes on his control panel and informed the control room. 

The heavy object was then removed from the tracks by the two locomotive pilots with the help of chief loco inspector and some passengers. 

The incident is suspected to be an act of sabotage as officials claim that the obstacle was placed on the tracks within 17 minutes.  A local train that had passed the area at 10:23 pm did not find any obstacles on its route. 

DK Sharma, General Manager, Central Railways confirmed that a single person could not have carried out the act given the weight of the object, reports The Times of India

Source: b'Representational image |Source: PTI\xc2\xa0'

It is suspected that at least 4 men were involved in carrying out the task. A lot of soil was also applied on the rail to prevent it from triggering an alarm system that would have halted an oncoming train.