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New measures launched to improve train travel safety

2018/11/16 15:53:26

CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced new measures Friday to improve train travel safety, focused primarily on adjustments of a system that controls speed, following a deadly express train derailment last month in northeastern Taiwan.

Transportation Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) said that connection problems between the automatic train protection (ATP) systems on all 18 Puyuma express trains operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and their remote control systems in the depots, had been corrected by Nov. 10.

This means that the dispatch control room can have real-time information if the ATP is working normally and can be alerted if it is turned off, he said.

Speeding was to blame for the accident as Puyuma Express No. 6432 from New Taipei to Taitung derailed in Yilan while traveling at nearly twice the permissible speed limit as it entered a curve, leaving 18 dead and 200 injured.

The driver, Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲), was found to have only reported that he had turned off the ATP system minutes before the crash occurred, and when it was reported, there was little urgency in the dispatcher's response.

Wu said the TRA will continue testing the system's stability by the end of November.

In addition, the TRA has replaced nine problematic air compressors and eight dehumidifiers on the Puyuma trains. Malfunction of those machines could cause power problems, which was the reason for the driver to decide to shut off the ATP.

Wu said there will be a comprehensive system upgrade by next April, which will be applied to all train models running across Taiwan.

The ministry is also working with experts to see if there could be further upgrades so that when an ATP is shut off, the train's speed could be kept within a safe range, Wu said.

Wu said this is expected by Dec. 30, 2019, and will be installed on 18 Puyuma and eight Taroko expresses, known for their tilting features that allow them to travel faster on existing tracks, as well as 32 train models used by the Tze-chiang limited express.

All other TRA trains will use the new system by 2022, according to Wu.

Before the Puyuma and Taroko trains adopt that feature, a double-driver system, introduced Oct. 30, will continue, the TRA added.

The measure allows the main driver to focus on operating the train, while the co-driver can concentrate on communicating with the dispatcher and solve any problems occur during the journey.

The double-driver system was suggested after Yu was found to be balancing too many tasks before the train derailed.

Finally, the TRA pledged to review its train schedule to make best use of its current workforce and prevent overwork.

The TRA said it will introduce new rescheduling for their trains, including reducing services with low passenger load and adding more express trains.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)