TRA to review Puyuma design flaw with Japanese manufacturer

Taipei, The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said late Thursday it has asked the Japanese manufacturer of a train that derailed in northeastern Taiwan last month to explain a design flaw that prevents the control room from being alerted that a train's automatic safety system is turned off.

TRA said it has sent a letter to Nippon Sharyo, a subsidiary of Central Japan Railway Company, and asked it to "make necessary arrangements."

According to various Japanese media, Nippon Sharyo has discovered a design flaw in all 19 Puyuma trains it sold to Taiwan, which prevents the train's alert system contacting the control station. As a result, train dispatchers are not aware when the automatic train protection (ATP), which prevents trains from speeding, is turned off, unless the driver informs them.

The reports said Nippon Sharyo did not double check the feature before selling the trains to Taiwan and as that model of train does not operate in Japan, was unaware of the flaw. The company said if the TRA asks, it will conduct maintenance for the Puyuma trains and fix the problem, according to the reports on Thursday.

Nippon Sharyo admitted that this situation reflects problems with its internal quality control system, but added that it does not appear that the lack of connection between the train and control room was the direct cause of the train crash since the driver did inform dispatchers he had turned off the ATP, Japanese media reported.

Speeding was to blame for the accident as Puyuma Express No. 6432 from New Taipei to Taitung derailed in Yilan while traveling at nearly twice the permissible speed limit as it entered a curve, leaving 18 dead and 200 injured.

Transportation Minister Wu Hong-mo (???) said Friday the ministry will investigate TRA's procurement and evaluation process to determine which side is responsible and could seek compensation from Nippon Sharyo.

Wu also said if the company finds that the flaw can be fixed immediately, the ministry will ask for improvements and related system upgrades at once.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel