Puyuma Express driver worked 17-hour shift days before deadly derailment in NE Taiwan

Driver behind deadly derailment in Taiwan's Yilan had worked a nearly 18-hour shift during week before accident

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Wrecked Puyuma engine.

Wrecked Puyuma engine. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Ministry of Labor (MOL) today announced that an investigation into the schedule of the driver behind the deadly derailment of a Puyuma Express train in Taiwan's Yilan County revealed that he had worked a 17-hour shift a week before the accident, in clear violation of the provisions of the Labor Standards Act (勞基法), reported CNA.

At a press conference today, the MOL announced the results of an inquest into the work schedule of the 48-year-old driver in the deadly derailment of a Puyuma Express train on Oct. 21 - Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲). It found that over the six months prior to the accident, Yu, who whose official job title is "Scheduling Supervisor" rather than "Driver," had worked overtime on many occasions, in many cases in violation of the "one fixed day off, one flexible day off" (一例一休) regulations.

According to the MOL's findings, on Oct. 5, Yu worked for a total of 13 hours and 1 minute in the office, a portion of which was overtime. In response to a change in train schedules on Oct. 12, Yu worked from Oct. 11 to 12 on scheduling and other matters for a total of 17 hours and 41 minutes, representing an illegal length of overtime.


Driver of train Yu Chen-chung. (CNA image)

Yu then rested on Oct. 15, worked in the office on Oct. 16 and 17, worked as a driver on Oct. 18 and 19, took a break on Oct. 20, and again worked as a driver on Oct. 21, the day of the accident. The work done during this period did not represent a violation of the law.

In addition, from May 13 to 26, Yu took compensatory leave from May 18 to 22 and a special day of leave on May 25. However, during this two-week period, he was not afforded a single fixed day off, a blatant violation of the law.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Director Tso Tzu-lien (鄒子廉) said the violations have been transferred to the Keelung City Government for adjudication in accordance with the law. Tso pledged that in the future, labor inspections will be strengthened to avoid such violations of the Labor Standards Act.

On Oct. 21, the Puyuma Express train No. 6432 , headed from northern Taiwan to the south-eastern city of Taitung (台東), had a total of 366 passengers onboard when it came off the tracks close to the Xinma Station (蘇澳鎭) in Su'ao at 4:50 p.m.. All eight of the carriages comprising the train came off the rails, with five completely overturning, killing 18 and injuring 210.