Taichung government demands more safety checks of MRT trains

11/30/2020 06:21 PM
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A Taichung MRT train. Photo courtesy of the Taichung city government.
A Taichung MRT train. Photo courtesy of the Taichung city government.

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) Trial operations on Taichung's mass rapid transit (MRT) system could be further delayed after the city government demanded more comprehensive safety checks, according to a press release Monday.

Trial runs on the system's first line, the Green Line, began on Nov. 16, but were suspended after one of the trains reported a malfunction at the Taichung High Speed Rail Station terminal on Nov. 21.

The system's operator, Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp. (TMRTC), said the same day that all services would be suspended until the problem is fixed.

The breakdown involved a U.S.-made coupling connecting the two-carriage train that broke, which the train manufacturer, Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan, said had "never happened before."

In the past week, Kawasaki and the Department of Rapid Transit Systems of Taipei City Government (DORTS), which is overseeing the project, inspected the 36 couplings on the MRT system's 18 trains, 30 of which were found to have no defects, the city government said Monday.

As removing the other six couplings proved difficult, DORTS said it would replace them with brand new ones that had passed safety checks, according to TMRTC.

However, after proposing this plan, one of the six couplings broke when the train it was attached to was being moved in a maintenance factory, TMRTC said.

The broken coupling had similar fractures to the one that broke on Nov. 21, and has raised questions as to whether there is a systemic issue with the component, TMRTC said.

Taichung city government has therefore decided to ask DORTS to conduct more safety checks and propose solutions, which could delay the resumption of trial runs and the formal launch of the line -- originally scheduled for Dec. 19, it said.

Also on Monday, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said the safety reports submitted by DORTS were insufficiently detailed, and she has instructed the department to conduct more tests.

Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (center) speaks to reporters on Monday. CNA photo Nov. 30, 2020
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (center) speaks to reporters on Monday. CNA photo Nov. 30, 2020

DORTS has to address whether there are systemic issues with the component and the trains, Lu said, reiterating that the MRT service will not resume until all problems have been resolved to the city government's satisfaction.

"We will not resume operations just for the sake of it. Safety is our first priority" she stressed.

(By Su Mu-chun, Chao Li-yan and Chiang Yi-ching)

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