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Derailed Puyuma train reported power problems before accident: TRA

2018/10/22 15:41:15

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) The driver of the derailed Puyuma express reported problems with the train's power system several times before the accident on Sunday afternoon, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) confirmed Monday.

The driver had reported unusually low pressure from the air compressor, which controls the power system, said Lai Sui-chin (賴隨金), deputy head of the TRA's Rolling Stock Department.

When the pressure is too low, power supply to the train can fluctuate, Lai explained, adding that such a malfunction is rare.

"The driver reported the problem many times as the train traveled between Toucheng and Jiaoxi stations," Lai said, but added that the glitch should have been fixed because the train was serviced by technicians when it stopped at Yilan Station.

No more reports about the power system were filed after the technical support, but the southbound Puyuma express from New Taipei to Taitung later derailed at 4:50 p.m. near Xinma Station, roughly 30 minutes after the initial report.

While the malfunction itself is unlikely to trigger an acceleration, the TRA is also considering the possibility that the automatic train protection (ATP) system was turned off manually, said director-general Lu Chieh-shen (鹿潔身).

The ATP continually checks that the speed of a train is compatible with the permitted speed allowed by signalling, and if it is not, ATP activates an emergency brake to stop the train.

It has been suggested that in order to make the power system work, the driver turned off the ATP.

According to TRA video surveillance footage, the train was likely traveling above the speed limit of 75-80 kilometers per hour when the accident occurred.

Lu said more analysis of communication records between the train driver and TRA is needed before any conclusions can be made.

The driver, who suffered minor injuries, is currently under investigation by prosecutors.

According to TRA's latest report, the death toll is currently 18, while the number of injured has increased from 187 to 190.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)