Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Taipei forms MRT emergency response team

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government formed an emergency response team yesterday to handle problems on the MRT Muzha and Neihu lines, and said it would refuse to pay the NT$3 billion (US$90 million) balance it owes the line’s builder if it fails to help solve the system’s malfunctions.

Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) demanded yesterday that there be no repeat of Friday’s stoppage on the Neihu and Muzha lines. He made the demand during a meeting with the top resident representative of the line’s contractor, Montreal-based Bombardier.

Taipei City Secretariat Deputy Director Tan Kuo-kuang (譚國光), director of the emergency response team, said the city had requested Bombardier send a senior engineer to conduct a thorough inspection of the system and solve the malfunctions and false alarms.

Tan dismissed concerns about the city’s shortening the trial run period to open the Neihu Line by the beginning of this month and said Bombardier’s contract requires it to ensure the reliability of the line reaches 99 percent by next May.

The city would not pay the balance due on the contract if the company fails to fulfill the task, he said.

Noting that Friday’s stoppage was the result of an outage of an uninterruptible power supply system at Zhongshan Junior High School Station, Tan said similar problems could be avoided once a back-up electrical circuit was installed, a job that will take two to three months.

Department of Rapid Transit Systems Director Tom Chang (常歧德) said the integration of the Muzha and Neihu systems was completed without problems, and he promised the two lines would soon stabilize.

“Some system flaws can only be detected during operation. We are confident that the reliability will soon be greatly improved,” he said.

The Neihu Line was designed to be compatible with the Muzha Line’s Matra system. Concerns about the integration of two systems were first raised following a number of false alarms and malfunctions after the Neihu Line opened on July 4.

The Muzha and Neihu lines shut down completely at 3:30pm on Friday, stopping 21 trains carrying more than 9,000 passengers and forcing the evacuation of 700 people on trains that were stuck between stations.

To prevent a reoccurrence, MRT staffers have been deployed inside the Neihu Line trains, which operate automatically, so the trains could be operated manually if the system shuts down.

The transit department announced late yesterday that it would no longer provide free shuttle buses along the line.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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