Sun, Sep 18, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Holiday rush overloads railway

STAFF WRITER

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) is reportedly furious over the Taiwan Railway Administration's (TRA) handling of train delays during the crush on Friday night as people headed for family reunions for today's Mid-Autumn Festival.

According to Chinese-language newspaper accounts yesterday Lin plans to establish an evaluation team tomorrow to implement comprehensive improvements and discipline officials over the logjams.

The reports said Lin also issued an ultimatum, saying that unless all delays are eliminated during the next Lunar New Year holiday, TRA Director Hsu Ta-wen (徐達文) might have to step down.

Lin was reported as saying that the TRA's management, traffic and emergency-response measures all are flawed.

He also questioned how the Mid-Autumn Festival should end up being such a money-loser for the TRA when it should offer an excellent opportunity to make money.

There are coordination problems between the TRA and the Railway Reconstruction Bureau, and it is clear that the TRA has severe internal problems, Lin was quoted as saying.

He said the agency lacked the capability to handle emergencies, he was quoted as saying, pointing out that when there were problems with the signal system on Friday night, the TRA staff should have changed signals manually, but they were slow to act.

Newspaper reports said angry travelers complained about the lack of information on delays on Friday night and complained that rail traffic ran too slowly.

According to the reports, Hsu agreed that there were shortcomings in the TRA's emergency-response capabilities, and that even though he was directing operations himself, he was unable to speed things up.

Hsu was quoted as saying that all the major stations had been told to inform travelers of the delays, but that many neglected to do so. He also vowed to improve staff training, and accept any disciplinary measures that were issued.

According to the reports, Hsu said the major problem was the section of tracks between Chitu (七堵) and Hsichih (汐止), which he called the weakest link in the rail system. Almost every time there are delays, he said, they were due to problems along this stretch of line.

Hsu said that the facilities along the Chitu-Hsichih section must be improved and that distances between stations must be shortened.

He also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the rail administration's staff.

Hsu said the TRA would now offer full reimbursement of fares to any traveller who experienced a delay of more than 80 minutes in his or her trip.

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