Sun, Jul 12, 2009 - Page 1 News List

TRTC promises review of Neihu Line

PUBLIC DOUBTS The Neihu and Muzha lines resumed operation yesterday, but DPP lawmakers said the Neihu Line may follow in the footsteps of the Maokong Gondola

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) and Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems yesterday promised to review emergency response procedures following the shutdown of the MRT’s Muzha and Neihu lines on Friday, but failed to explain the reason behind the sudden power outage.

The two lines resumed operation at 6am yesterday after the service shut down at 3:30pm on Friday.

Twenty-one trains were running at the time when the power supply system malfunctioned, forcing 700 passengers to evacuate trains that were stuck between stations.

The department and the TRTC spent about 45 minutes locating the glitch in the system to start the backup power supply.

They did not evacuate the passengers until more than 20 minutes after the trains came to a halt. Frequent false alarms and malfunctions have hampered the the new Neihu Line’s operation since it opened to the public on July 4.

Department director Tom Chang (常歧德) yesterday said the shutdown on Friday was caused by the failure of an uninterruptible power supply system at Zhongshan Junior High School Station.

Chang and Chao Hsiung-fei (趙雄飛) yesterday apologized to the 700 passengers who were forced to walk down the elevated rail lines to return to station platforms after a number of trains stopped between stations.

They also promised to review the emergency response procedures and provide prompt assistance to passengers.

To compensate the passengers, Chao said the company had given those who were stuck between stations one-day free MRT and bus passes. Those who had taken the MRT between 3pm and 5pm on Friday were eligible to receive five free MRT passes by showing their EasyCards at any MRT station within one week.

Chang said the two companies were still working with the Neihu Line’s builder, Montreal-based Bombardier, to find out the reason behind the power outage, and will look into who should take responsibility after the cause of the outage is determined.

“I will step down if I should,” he said.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the city government would ask Bombardier for compensation if the company failed to solve the system malfunctions.

Later yesterday, Hau said Chang had offered his resignation to take responsibility for the incident, but added that he would not consider Chang’s resignation until the Neihu Line has stabilized. Despite the resumption of operations yesterday, some passengers decided to take free transit buses instead.

“The bus is free, and I don’t need to worry about the MRT being shut down again,” a male passenger said in front of the MRT’s Zhongxiao Fuxing Station yesterday.

Another passenger said she was concerned about the MRT service after Friday’s system shutdown, but she would continue to take it to get to her destination faster. Another resident took the MRT yesterday to the Sogo Department Store, but challenged the city government over the frequent malfunctions.

“The Neihu Line cost tax payers so much money to build, but has had so many malfunctions. The rights of passengers are not being protected,” she said.

At about 12:19pm yesterday, the doors of a train that stopped at Gangqian Station did not open, causing a 12-minute delay as a staffer was sent to open the doors by hand. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday slammed the city government for its poor handling of the incident on Friday, saying authorities should fix the problems to prevent the Neihu Line from being suspended forever like the Maokong Gondola system.

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