Among the nine dead, one is a woman and four are men while the rest were yet to be identified, a Western Railway official spokesperson said.
The fire is believed to have erupted in one bogie and quickly spread to two other bogies, catching the passengers in their sleep around 2.30 am on Wednesday, the official said.
“The fire was noticed on the speeding train by a level crossing gateman who alerted the guard. The guard informed the driver and the train was stopped. The gateman did a commendable job and averted a major disaster,” the spokesperson said.
According to preliminary information, the fire broke out in S-3 coach and quickly spread to the other adjoining coaches as the train hurtled to its destination.
Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed anguish over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs.500,000 to the families of the deceased.
The Railway Board has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Two of the victims identified are Dipika Shah of Ghatkopar and Devshankar Upadhyay of Borivli, while the identities of the others are being ascertained.
The fire was brought under control shortly after the train was brought to a halt at Gholwad station, around 145 km from north of Mumbai on the Maharasthra-Gujarat border.
Accident relief vans have been sent from Mumbai and Gujarat to assist in the relief operations and the injured have been admitted to hospitals in Dahanu and Gholwad, the official said.
Top officials, including the divisional railway manager, have rushed to the tragedy site and are supervising the relief operations.