Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Taipei City to halt refit program for old Muzha trains

BROKEN LINE After three breakdowns on Tuesday, officials said the Neihu-Muzha Line would be closed from tomorrow night until early Monday

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government will halt the refitting of the Muzha MRT Line’s 25 trains that would make them compatible with the Neihu MRT Line’s Bombardier system, a city official said yesterday.

The move comes amid reports the city could give up the integration of the Muzha and Neihu lines after the system broke down three times on Tuesday.

Asked if it would consider switching the Muzha Line back to the French Matra system while suspending the Neihu Line for further inspection, Taipei City Secretariat Deputy Director Tan Gwo-guang (譚國光), spokesman for the line, said the city was not ruling out any options.

“Delaying, shortening or halting the operation, or even suspending the operation of the Neihu extension line are all options. Convenience for the passengers is the priority when weighing those options,” Tan told reporters at Taipei City Hall.

Tan made the remarks after the Neihu-Muzha Line broke down at 10:35am, 7:43pm and 11:16pm on Tuesday, all because of network system malfunctions at the Neihu line’s Dahu Park Station.

Tan said the line would be suspended from 10pm tomorrow through Sunday night so that technicians could work on the problems. The service will resume on Monday.

System integration has been a major issue for the Neihu-Muzha Line. The Neihu Line, an extension of the Muzha Line, did not adopt the French-built Matra system used by the Muzha Line, and was instead built by Montreal-based Bombardier.

The Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) adopted the Bombardier system to work with the Muzha Line and began operating the Neihu-Muzha Line on July 4.

A total of 51 new trains are running on the Neihu-Muzha Line, and Bombardier is in the process of refitting the 25 original Muzha Line trains to make them compatible with its system.

Frequent malfunctions and breakdowns since the integration, however, have forced the city government to consider running the Muzha Line on its original Matra system while halting the Neihu Line for inspection of the problematic Bombardier system.

Tan said Bombardier had completed refitting four of the Muzha Line’s 25 trains, but that the city government has asked the company to halt refitting work as the city is weighing the possibility of switching back to the Matra system for the Muzha Line.

“Running the Muzha Line on the Matra system and suspending the Neihu Line would be our last choice. Stabilizing the Neihu-Muzha Line remains our priority,” he said.

Tsai Tien-ho (蔡天和), director of electrics for Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems, said the department did not remove the signals, electrical and mechanical equipment for the Matra system during system integration, so it would be feasible for the Muzha Line to run on the Matra system again.

“The problem is that we stopped maintenance work for the Matra system in July and cannot guarantee the Matra system will still be stable,” he said.

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