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Taichung MRT to unlock emergency brake button at all times

Manual driver control panel to be unlocked for train attendants to immediately hit emergency brake button

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Carlin Bardsley (left) lies on his back and grips a handrail while the attendant squats in a corner as they brace for impact with crane. (TMRT sc...

Carlin Bardsley (left) lies on his back and grips a handrail while the attendant squats in a corner as they brace for impact with crane. (TMRT sc...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taichung MRT (TMRT) announced on Monday (May 15) that train attendants will be on the driver's side and the manual driver control panel will be unlocked at all times to ensure a faster response after the deadly collision with a crane last week.

On May 10, a TMRT Green Line train automatically collided with a collapsed crane boom that had fallen onto the tracks. The train attendant was unable to apply the emergency brakes because the control panel was locked, and she had difficulty accessing the key. The accident resulted in one death and 10 injuries.

The Taichung City Council on Monday held an inquiry into the accident, where councilors expressed concern about TMRT's plans to improve safety. Taichung City Councilors Chang Liao Nai Lun (張廖乃綸) and Chang Ching (張瀞) of the Kuomintang asked about ways to improve the TMRT's detection system, reported CNA.

Independent councilor Chen Ting-hsiu (陳廷秀) said "never forgetting the past is a guide for the future," adding that the TMRT should "learn from the pain and submit a review." TMRT Vice President Chuang Ming-tsung (莊明聰) expressed his deepest condolences to the victims and public.

Chuang said that risk assessments were conducted based on existing lines when the TMRT had been designed. The TMRT design had not taken into account the possibility of large objects falling from a significant height onto the tracks. He said that in the 27 years since the Wenhu Line (Brown Line) was constructed, no large objects had landed on the tracks.

Chuang said that foreign objects are often due to flying debris generated by typhoons, such as advertising billboards. When there are Level 7 or higher winds on the Beaufort scale, the manual driver's control panel is unlocked and when a foreign object lands on the tracks, the emergency brake button can be quickly pressed.

However, regarding the accident on May 10, track sensors did not detect the crane, as it had landed on top of the noise barrier but not the tracks.

Chuang said the TMRT is proposing new emergency response measures to strengthen its detection system. He also said attendants will now stand on the driver's side of the train and the manual driver's control panel will be unlocked at all times, so the attendant will be able to immediately press the emergency brake button if there is any abnormality.