Hualien railway section opens 2 weeks after fatal train crash

04/19/2021 12:16 PM
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CNA photo on April 19
CNA photo on April 19

Taipei, April 19 (CNA) A section of railway in eastern Taiwan that was damaged in a deadly train crash accident earlier this month was reopened on Monday, with the first train on that route departing at 5:27 a.m.

Train service on the route was able to resume after Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) last Friday completed its repairs and safety inspections on the track in the area of the Qingshui Tunnel, where the accident occurred on April 2, killing 49 people and injuring at least 200.

On Monday, a local train carrying Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), acting TRA Director-General Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) and other passengers made the first scheduled run on the repaired track, departing from Yilan at 5:27 a.m. and passing through the Qingshui Tunnel.

"The ride was smooth," Lin said, upon arrival at Hualien Train Station at 7:08 a.m.

Now that the section of railway between Chongde and Heren stations has been reopened, Lin said, he hoped the TRA would work on rebuilding its safety record by carrying out the necessary reforms.

The reopening of the railway section marks the completion of a major phase of the work that needed to be done after the accident, said Lin, adding that it was his last day on the job, as he had tendered his resignation in the wake of the crash.

The fatal accident occurred at 9:28 a.m. April 2, when Taroko Express No. 408 crashed inside the Qingshui Tunnel after slamming into a crane truck on the track near the tunnel's entrance.

The collision caused part of the eight-carriage train, which was traveling at over 100 kilometers per hour, to derail and pile up inside the tunnel, according to video images.

On April 14, Lin submitted his written resignation to Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), to take responsibility for the accident. Lin's resignation will take effect Tuesday.

Lin was scheduled to return to Taipei Monday on a Puyuma Express train to attend a farewell party hosted by the staff at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

(By Lee Hsien-feng and Evelyn Kao)

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