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Transportation minister gives assurance of Alishan rail safety

Transportation minister gives assurance of Alishan rail safety

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Transportation and Communications Minister Mao Chi-kuo assured the public Wednesday of the safety of the Alishan rail system and promised that his ministry will step up its inspections of the alpine service.
Mao made the remarks while fielding questions at a legislative committee meeting from Legislator Lee Hung-chun of the ruling Kuomintang about the safety of the rail system.
Alishan mountain in Chiayi County is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taiwan, offering famous views of a beautiful sunrises, serene mountain landscape and ancient trees. The railway leading up the mountain is said to be one of three remaining alpine railways in the world.
Lee said that he was concerned about the safety of the service, particularly as the volume of passengers is likely to increase sharply when the one-month-long cherry blossom festival kicks off this Sunday.
"Although the rail system is now operated by a private company, Hungtu Alishan, the ministry should assume responsibility as the top regulator of the rail system," Lee said.
In response, Mao pledged that his ministry will ensure the safety of the alpine railway, in terms of its "drivers, trains and routes," and will step up its routine inspections of the system.
Officials from the ministry on Wednesday afternoon inspected a section of the railway at the 23.5 kilometer mark of the 71.4km railway, whose road base was seriously eroded last summer.
One month after Hungtu Alishan took over the operation of the system from the Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture June 19, 2008, it was forced to close the line due to damage from a series of natural events, including typhoons and torrential rains. The railway was reopened in mid-January this year.
However, the service continued to be plagued by problems. Its train drivers, reportedly angry over their low wages, were recently mulling resigning en masse. On Tuesday morning, the compressed air line to the brakes on one of the trains ruptured, crippling its operation. It has since been repaired and the train is now back in service.
Hungtu Alishan announced Wednesday that the rail service between Chiayi and the mountain will be suspended for two days for full overhaul, but two branch lines on the mountain will not be affected and will remain in service.
The company announced last month that extra train services will be available to the Alishan forest recreation area during the upcoming cherry blossom festival.

(By Lilian Wu)




Updated : 2021-05-15 02:10 GMT+08:00