Rather than face the prospect of scores of frustrated passengers launching a chorus of complaints, the driver instead asked them to get out and push.
Many chose to get out of their seats and do just that, officials say.
It took them more than half an hour to move the electric train 12ft (4m) so that it touched live overhead wires and was able to resume its journey.
"In so many years of service in the railways, I have never come across such a bizarre incident," Deepak Kumar Jha, a spokesman for Indian Railways, told the Reuters news agency.
Officials say the extraordinary display of passenger power occurred on Tuesday in the eastern state of Bihar after a passenger pulled the train's emergency chain, bringing it to a halt in a "neutral zone".
This is a short length of track where there is no power in the overhead wires.
Correspondents say that a train's momentum usually allows it to continue moving through neutral zones.
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