TRA battles to resume normal service

DELUGE::Torrential rainfall has resulted in more than NT$405 million of damage to agricultural, fishery and forestry resources, as well as disrupting transportation

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Sep 02, 2013 - Page 1

The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) yesterday said it was doing everything it could to resume normal operations of the South-Link Railway tomorrow following a derailment caused by a mudslide on Saturday.

The mudslide caused the derailment of a Tzuchiang Express train after it had entered one of the tunnels between Fangye (枋野) and Jialu (加祿), wedging the third, fourth and fifth carriages on the railway tracks inside the tunnel.

The derailment left 17 people injured, including the train driver.

The TRA had initially aimed to reopen the entire 98.2km line today. However, it decided to postpone services until tomorrow after it encountered problems bringing in large machinery to remove the carriages from the tunnel.

For the time being, passengers traveling from Taitung have to change to shuttle buses at Dawu (大武) to continue their trips to Fangliao (枋寮) in Pingtung County, the terminal station of the South Link Line.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) inspected the site of the derailment yesterday and asked TRA Director-General Frank Fan (范植谷) to identify sections of track at high-risk of being affected by mudslides, reinforce trackside slopes and establish an automatic surveillance system to monitor the movement of slopes.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the ministry would consider installing more detectors along the South Link Line to monitor changes in trackside slopes.

He said that the government would invest about NT$5 billion (US$167 million) to install slope detectors after the railway line is completely electrified in 2020.

Currently, only diesel-powered trains can operate on the South Link Line.

While there are some detectors along the line, none were installed at the location where Saturday’s accident occurred, the TRA said.

Fallen rocks or mudslides also disrupted train services on the Pingsi (平溪) branch line and the North Link Line on Saturday. About 13,000 passengers have been affected by problems caused by torrential rainfall.

The government yesterday again suspended services on the Pingsi branch line because of fallen rocks, adding that it would not resume operations until it has ascertained that the branch line is safe.

Services on the Alishan Forest Railway were also canceled.

Soil across the nation has been affected by the torrential rainfall brought by Tropical Storms Trami and Kong-Rey, causing landslides and damaging transportation infrastructure.

Damage to agricultural, fishery and forestry resources has topped NT$405 million.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, Dahanshan (大漢山) in Pingtung County received accumulated rainfall of 1,288mm between Thursday and Saturday, during which the nation was affected by Tropical Storm Kong-Rey.

The 10 places in the nation that experienced the highest rainfall are all in Pingtung and Greater Tainan.

The bureau said that rain is expected to ease today as both the tropical depression and the frontal system that affected the nation over the weekend would be moving away from Taiwan, adding that the temperature would gradually rebound as well.

The bureau also confirmed that Tropical Storm Yutu had formed yesterday. As of press time, the center of the storm was at 5,400km northeast of Taipei. It was moving northeast at 6kph.

The storm is not likely to affect Taiwan, the bureau said.