Taiwan Railways to cop fines of NT$300,000 in wake of deadly train crash

Taipei-The Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Wednesday it will impose fines of NT$300,000 (US$10,559) in total on Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for negligence that led to a deadly train accident in eastern Taiwan earlier this month.

Recent labor inspections found that the TRA failed to properly supervise one of its construction sites near the railway, which resulted in a truck falling onto the tracks shortly before the ill-fated express train approached, according to the ministry.

Citing Articles 26 and 27 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the ministry said a business operator is required to inform contractors of potentially hazardous elements in their work environment and take the necessary action to prevent occupational accidents.

The fine for violation of the each of the two articles is NT$150,000, which means the TRA will soon be fined NT$300,000 in total, said Tzou Tzu-lien (???), director-general of the MOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

After recent inspections, he said, the MOL has concluded that the TRA was partly responsible for the April 2 train crash in Hualien that killed 49 people and injured at least 200.

The accident occurred at 9:28 a.m., when a southbound TRA express train hit a crane truck on the track near the entrance to the Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien County.

Initial investigations found that the truck, driven by TRA subcontractor Lee Yi-hsiang (???), had been parked at a construction site above the railway and had slid down an incline onto the track.

Lee, who was sub-contracted by a company the TRA had hired to carry out maintenance work in the area, has been arrested and is being held incommunicado, for fear he might attempt to flee, collude with others, or destroy evidence.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), under which the TRA falls, has filed a lawsuit against the contractor and the sub-contractor, seeking damages for the deadly crash.

According to Chu Chin-lung (???), an administration official in charge of labor inspections, the TRA should have informed the contractor of the danger of vehicles falling onto the track near the construction site above the Qingshui Tunnel.

Meanwhile, another administration official Lee Wen-chin (???) said that since the accident, the MOL has embarked on inspections of all 288 TRA construction sites to make sure safety protocols are being observed, and it has completed 185 checks.

Also on Wednesday, incumbent TRA Deputy Director-General Tu Wei (??), who has been tapped to take over the director's post, said the TRA will study the feasibility of installing auto detectors on slopes along the railways to avoid intrusion of foreign objects.

Not all sections along the railway will require such systems, however, as barriers will work in some parts, he said

The TRA's top position has been vacant since January, when then Director-General Chang Cheng-yuan (???) retired.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel