Human error cited as cause of massive train delays in Taiwan
Central News Agency
2014-03-03 11:28 PM
Taipei, March 3 (CNA) A Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) investigation of a major disruption in the power supply of Taiwan's main rail line on Feb. 28 that led to huge delays has found that human error may have been behind the problem. Power on the TRA's Western Line was interrupted Friday when a faulty pantograph -- the device above the train used to collect electric current -- pulled down overhead power lines and several of the frames holding up the lines. The disruption affected more than 60,000 passengers. In a meeting Monday, the TRA's Railway Safety Committee determined that a support protecting the pantograph's collector head -- the part that comes in contact with power lines -- came loose because of a loose screw and fell away. That allowed the collector head to eventually grab onto power lines, and the pantograph eventually pulled the wires down, the committee said. Failure to tighten the support may have been due to human error, the panel determined. The committee had previously believed the incident to be caused by dilapidated electric cables, but it changed its mind after reviewing a video showing the northbound train that created the problem without its collector head support as it passed through Taichung Railway Station. The incident took place just over an hour later on a section between Zhongli and Puxin stations in Taoyuan County. The committee is scheduled to complete a more detailed investigation in three weeks. It intends to see if repair and maintenance staff followed standard operating procedures and carefully inspected the train before it departed. Maintenance personnel were at a loss as to what happened, having checked inspection records from Feb. 18 and Feb. 27 without finding any abnormalities. The maintenance department has sent people to look for the fallen support along the railway. The TRA said that to prevent similar incidents from happening again, it would check the pantograph of all electrified trains and replace the screws of the support for the pantograph's collector head. The problem occurred at 8:37 a.m. Friday, the first day of a three-day national holiday. The TRA originally said that it would take about nine hours to fix the problem, but because of the scale of the damage, the work was only completed Saturday morning, nearly 24 hours after the incident. Both TRA Director General Frank Fan and Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih have apologized over the delays and promised refunds. (By Wang Shu-fen and Lilian Wu)
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