Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Bullet train likely to be delayed

INSUFFICIENT TEST RUNS Lloyd's Register, the certifying authority, asked the Taiwan High Speed Rail Co to conduct additional observations before opening

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒) yesterday issued a statement confirming fears that the nation's first bullet train is unlikely to be operational by the end of this month.

"The specialists from Lloyd's Register [the certifying institute] said that the Taiwan High Speed Rail Co [THSRC] has not conducted a sufficient number of test runs during the past two weeks, and they have asked for additional observations," Ho said.

"THSRC said they could only tender the Independent Verification and Validation Facility [IV&V] report in early November," he said.

Inspectors decided over the weekend that the final review meeting would have to be postponed until after THSRC turns in the IV&V report, he said.

According to Ho, the company held a drill yesterday to test the system's readiness in case of an earthquake. The scenario was based on a magnitude five earthquake striking while the train was operating at 300kph.

Inspectors were divided into small groups and dispatched to observe responses at the company's headquarters in Taipei, the traffic control center, on board a train and at stations in Chiayi, Tainan and Tsoying.

Ho said that it took the train 3.5km to come to a complete stop.

The traffic center then activated standardized operating procedures for an emergency situation.

The power supply system was immediately switched off and train crews guided passengers to the exits. The company then dispatched small buses to escort passengers to a safe spot.

Before the train resumed operation, the driver checked to see if the train had derailed.

The train then resumed travelling and gradually increased its speed.

"The drill was held to see how able the company was in handling various emergency situations," Ho said."Its performance was found to be satisfactory."

He noted that each inspector only focused on a small part of the entire operation during the test.

Follow-up action was needed to organize their thoughts and observations into a complete report, he said.

On Saturday, THSRC operated a train according to a preset timetable. The company also simulated operations during rush hour, with inspectors entering the control center to check if the company could adeptly deploy additional trains.

It also created a scenario where the railway's tracks were damaged in order to examine how promptly the control center could order the closure of one line and initiate two-way operation using the other line.

Ho reiterated yesterday that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has set no specific launch date for the train to begin service.

The THSRC would only be allowed to operate when the safety concerns were fully addressed, he said.

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