Taiwan Puyuma train derailment caused by management, troubleshooting errors: report

If one of the errors was found ahead of time, the incident would not have occurred

  4424
The Puyuma Express locomotive after the October 21 derailment in Yilan County.

The Puyuma Express locomotive after the October 21 derailment in Yilan County. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The taskforce commissioned by the Executive Yuan into the Puyama Express derailment submitted their report on Nov. 26, finding a host of mechanical problems and poor administration by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) as bearing responsibility, reported CNA.

Suboptimal troubleshooting by both the train driver and the TRA’s control center was also partially to blame, the report suggests.

A Puyuma train derailed in Yilan County on Oc.21, killing 18 people and injuring 267. An initial investigation into the disaster led to the discovery of several technical problems with the trains and led to admission of mistakes by their Japanese manufacturer.

The train conductor also disabled the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system, and was traveling a high speed at point of derailment, while policy to deal with the train’s fault was not followed by the TRA.

Head of the Bureau of High Speed Rail, Allen Hu (胡湘麟), said the incident was the result of numerous human errors in terms of inspection, maintenance, and adherence to policy.

The report found that if one of the errors was found ahead of time, the incident would not have occurred.

Two of the train’s four air compressors were not working, and the TRA did not have a policy in place to determine what should happen in this event.

This air compressor failure caused power problems, which induced the driver to disable the train’s ATP safety system.

Hu suggested that the driver was too busy dealing with these problems to tell central command about the issue accurately, and in a timely manner.

The train driver spent 43 minutes calling and speaking to central control in the lead up to the derailment, in which he notified them of the fault and that the ATP system was disabled.

The report found that the TRA itself was also partially to blame, and should have commanded the train to stop for an inspection after the fault was reported, 20 minutes before the derailment.

The report was also tasked to identify a range of recommendations to ensure the derailment will not repeat itself in the future.

The Japanese train manufacturer fixed the design flaw of its trains used in Taiwan earlier this month, and both the Puyuma Express and Taroko Express now use two drivers.