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Station staff had 15 seconds to stop fatal Taichung MRT crash: Report

11/29/2023 11:12 PM
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CNA photo May 10, 2023
CNA photo May 10, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) A report into a deadly accident in Taichung on May 10, in which a crane boom fell onto an MRT track, revealed that station staff had only 15 seconds to stop a running train before it smashed into the crane.

The Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB) published Wednesday a report detailing facts related to the metro accident which resulted in the death of one passenger and injured 15 others.

It was found that when the crane boom fell from a construction site near Feng-le Park Station on the Taichung MRT green line, a security guard on the platform waved to the on-board MRT staff member in a bid to get her to stop the train, the TTSB said in a statement.

However, the onboard staff member failed to instantly understand what the security guard was signaling, said the independent government agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents.

Data in the report indicated that the crane boom fell onto the track at 12:27:03 p.m. on May 10, and the train departed the station 26 seconds later at 12:27:29 p.m.

Despite the security guard waving to warn the on-board staff member a crane boom had fallen on the track 2 seconds after the departure of the train at 12:27:31 p.m., the female member of staff had little time to react because the train crashed into the crane at 12:27:46 p.m., 15 seconds after the guard tried to warn those on board, according to the report.

In the wake of the deadly accident, Taichung Metro chief of operations Hsu Tai-ming (許泰銘) told reporters that stopping the train from the traffic control center or activating the on board emergency brake via a computer both take around 20 seconds, indicating that MRT staff had insufficient time to prevent the accident.

The accident occurred when workers at a Highwealth Construction Corp. site near Feng-le Park Station were dismantling a dock tower crane, the report said, adding that the crane boom fell because the machine being used to take down the crane was faulty.

Over the past six months, the TTSB said it has inspected surveillance footage recorded at the metro station, inside the train, and provided by the traffic control center, while also reviewing relevant documents, procedures, systems and regulations.

An additional 21 people involved in the accident were also interviewed, including the operator of the Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp., personnel from Taichung's Transportation Bureau, the operator of the construction site, and the supplier of the crane boom.

According to the safety board, the final draft of the investigation report will be finished by May 2024. It will include data, analysis and findings from the accident, as well as proposals for future improvements.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Evelyn Yang)

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Map: Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp.
Map: Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp.
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