Transport ministry orders higher fences at TRA construction sites

12/02/2021 05:16 PM
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Photo courtesy of the TRA
Photo courtesy of the TRA

Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) on Thursday said he has ordered Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to put up higher fences between railway lines and nearby construction sites and that contractors should work during non-operating hours.

His remarks came during a Transportation Committee hearing at the Legislative Yuan after a steel pile being used on a TRA construction site fell and hit a Taroko Express train on Wednesday morning.

No injuries were reported, but the accident caused the project, which is being carried out near the railway track between Dali and Fulong stations along TRA's Eastern Line, to be suspended pending an investigation.

According to the TRA, the construction site, which is 5-8 meters from the track, is part of a six-year project to stabilize slopes along railway lines. Currently, anything within three meters of the center of a railway track is designated an exclusion zone.

At the legislative hearing, Wang told lawmakers that fences which run adjacent to the tracks will be increased by two meters in height at the construction site, and the same will also be done at four similar TRA projects.

Meanwhile, the transportation chief said he has ordered the railway operator to instruct contractors to work during non-operating hours at night where possible.

Wang said he was "extremely ashamed" of the TRA, after nine safety-related incidents over the past three months, mostly due to negligence.

After the accident occurred on Wednesday, Wang said that day he had ordered the removal of the head of TRA's construction department, one of its four major units overseeing train travel safety, following through on a threat he made during a recent meeting with TRA officials on rail safety.

Whether it was a mistake or an accident, the steel pile should not have been in a position to fall into the exclusion zone, he said, adding that the TRA needs to make improvements in multiple areas.

(By Yu Hsiao-han, Lee Hsin-Yin and Ko Lin)

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