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Taiwan premier identifies safety as key element for railway reform

Ministry of Transportation talking to unions, staff about corporatizing TRA

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Safety is the key issue in railway reform, says Premier Su Tseng-chang. 

Safety is the key issue in railway reform, says Premier Su Tseng-chang.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has put safety and stability at the top of the agenda amid calls to turn the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) into a corporation, reports said Thursday (Sept. 16).

The government promised to reform the rail service operator following a train crash in Hualien County that killed 50 people in April. In the incident, a truck rolled from a construction site onto a track and was hit by a train about to enter a tunnel.

Improving railway safety was the main topic at Thursday morning’s regular weekly Cabinet meeting, CNA reported. The Ministry of Transportation emphasized the need to improve supervision of dangerous track segments, management of construction areas, testing of train drivers, and installation of speed limiting equipment.

The ministry said it wanted the attitude toward safety issues to change from passive to active. With that aim in mind, an independent professional body would start reviewing safety management at the TRA from the first quarter of 2022.

Apart from having sufficient quantities of tickets and seats available, train service needed to be punctual, while reform should focus on safety and stability, Premier Su said at the Cabinet meeting. He also told the TRA to take the high-speed rail system as an example, as any intrusion of an alien object on its tracks would cause the immediate suspension of services for safety reasons.

Turning to the issue of corporatizing the TRA, the Ministry of Transportation said discussions were ongoing with personnel, unions, and government departments about the rights of staff, the organization, and the handling of operating losses.