2018-10-31 03:00

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday said that 228 apprentices and 10 driving assistants have been dispatched to assist drivers of express train services to promote passenger safety.

The initiative is part of reforms at the TRA that Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) announced on Monday after a Puyuma Express train derailment on Oct. 21 that killed 18 passengers and injured 215.

Preliminary findings by an Executive Yuan investigative team showed博客來 that the train driver, surnamed You (尤), was communicating with a train dispatcher and an inspector about a technical problem he was having for 43 minutes.

The accident shows the risk of having only one driver on board, prompting the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ (MOTC) decision to have two drivers operating each train.

MOTC Deputy Minister Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) yesterday morning visited the TRA to see how it was implementing the new measure.

The TRA has 18 Puyuma Express and eight Taroko Express train services.

To implement the two-driver policy, the apprentice drivers and driving assistants yesterday started assisting the drivers of the two express train services, the TRA said.

“We will see if we need to continue implementing the two-driver policy after we have ascertain博客來網路書局ed that the ATPs [automatic train protection] can function reliably,” Chi said.

The TRA has six types of trains: diesel-electric locomotives, electric locomotives, diesel hydraulic locomotives, push-pull electric locomotives, steam locomotives and electric multiple units.

It takes about 23 months to train a driver to operate one type of train, and another month of training to be able to operate a different type of train, the TRA said.

The TRA Train Drivers’ Association said that it used to be a TRA policy to have two drivers on board.

“However, as the博客來網路書店 agency began acquiring new trains and safety equipment, it began experimenting with having only one driver operate the train,” the association said.

The group said it has been urging the TRA to return to a two-driver policy for all trains after the collision at Dali Train Station (大里) in Yilan County in 2007, but the agency has rejected its proposal.

Meanwhile, the Society of Railway and National Planning said that the task force entrusted to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the TRA should take an in-depth look at the issues facing the agency.

“We absolutely understand the importance and necessity of having such a task force, but the task force should give the TRA a vision as well as strategies to achieve them before talking about reforms. It should also review how transport policies in the past have affected the TRA’s operations,” the society said.

Members of the task force should feel free to talk about what they think the problem is without fear of being punished, and all stakeholders must strive to reach a consensus on measures that the task force proposes to improve the agency, the society said.

Finally, the task force must list specific steps and timeline that the TRA must follow, which should help the agency reorganize its personnel structure, recruit workers and make budget plans, it said.


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