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Earthquake rocks east Taiwan, TRA to consider installing automatic train control

Magnitude 4.6 temblor rocks Hualien hours after Transportation Minister asked to upgrade railway safety system

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Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai during Wednesday's interpellation. 

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai during Wednesday's interpellation.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Shortly after Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國財) said that Taiwan’s railways lack automatic equipment and promised to install an automatic train control (ATC) system for better safety in case of natural disasters, an earthquake rocked Hualien.

The Liberty Times reported that on Monday morning (March 28), Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) asked Wang to install the ATC system for Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) trains so they can brake automatically and quickly when notified of strong earthquakes or foreign objects on the tracks. This was in response to the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that shocked Taiwan on Wednesday (March 23).

Wang told Lee that he would ask the TRA to come up with a plan and that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) would fully support it. Currently, TRA trains require conductors to brake manually, unlike trains on the High Speed Rail system, which are equipped with the ATC system that slows trains down when earthquakes reach intensity level 4 or above.

Taiwan uses an intensity scale of one to seven, which gauges the degree to which a quake is felt at a specific location.

Following the exchange, an earthquake — one of the many aftershocks of the Wednesday quake — occurred in Hualien at 5 p.m., prompting the TRA to delay both northbound and southbound trains between Yuli and Taitung stations. According to the Central Weather Bureau, the epicenter of the temblor was 102.3 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien County Hall and bordering Taitung County, with a focal depth of 11.3 km.

The earthquake’s intensity registered as a 3 in Hualien County and Taitung County. An intensity level of 2 was recorded in Kaohsiung City. A lesser intensity level of 1 was felt in Chiayi County, Chiayi City, Yunlin County, Tainan City, Nantou County, Changhua County, and Taichung City.

No injuries or damage from the quake had been reported at the time of publication.

Earthquake rocks east Taiwan, TRA to consider installing automatic train control
(Central Weather Bureau screenshot)