Railway unions, agency reach truce

NO DISRUPTIONS::Train drivers agreed to serve the interests of holiday travelers despite their dispute with the Taiwan Railways Administration on safety and staffing

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 1

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train drivers yesterday agreed to continue normal operations during the Lunar New Year holiday after securing promises that the agency would improve safety facilities at railway crossings and increase railway personnel.

The negotiations were held after the National Train Drivers’ Association launched a protest against the TRA for what the union called the agency’s failure to improve railway crossings and address a staff shortage.

Instead of striking, drivers reduced their speed at every railway crossing on their routes. The association threatened to do so during the Lunar New Year holiday as well if the TRA continued to ignore their requests.

In talks with TRA Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉), representatives from the TRA Workers’ Union and the association said that they would not disrupt holiday travel and would ensure that travelers’ interests are protected.

Whether the TRA’s management will fulfill its promises to the employees remains to be seen, but the drivers would make sure that travelers arrive home safely for the holiday, association leader Lin Tsung-chi (林聰吉) said.

In related news, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) yesterday said that it would schedule extra trains during the Lunar New Year holiday to cater to the large number of travelers expected during the six-day period.

Rail bookings for today and tomorrow indicate high demand, on the southbound route in particular, the THSRC said.

Additional trains will operate on those days to get travelers to their destinations in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations, the company said.

The extra services start this afternoon, with four high-speed trains departing from Taipei and stopping at all stations — Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi and Tainan — en route to Zuoying in Kaohsiung, the THRSC said.

The additional trains are to depart Taipei at 1:24pm, 2:24pm, 6:24pm and 8:24pm on the two-hour trip to Kaohsiung. They are coded 2665, 2773, 2775 and 2777, it said.

Tomorrow, Lunar New Year’s Eve, one additional train coded 2665 is to depart Taipei at 11:24am, stopping at all of the stations on the southbound route, it said.

There will be no reserved seats on the extra trains, which means that passengers can sit where they wish, or stand if there are no available seats, the THSRC said.

The Lunar New Year holiday runs from Feb. 18 to Feb. 23 this year.