Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Legislators up in arms over train accidents

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A series of accidents that occurred during test runs of the bullet train system last month have aggravated lawmakers serving on the legislature's Transportation Committee.

In a press conference yesterday, the lawmakers demanded that the Bureau of High Speed Rail require the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to turn in a comprehensive report within a week to ascertain whether the 28 major defects identified in the previous edition of the Independent Validation and Verification (IV&V) report have been fully addressed.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers reminded the bureau to strictly observe the resolution passed in the committee this month that no dignitaries be allowed to board the bullet train at the inauguration ceremony scheduled for next month -- the system's operation permit will still be pending at that time.

The PFP Caucus threatened to curtail the bureau's budget if it failed to fulfill the committee's requirements.

"We will review your [the bureau] budget on Monday," People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said. "Just wait and see what we are going to do if you dare allow random passengers to board the train without securing the permit first. We will not let the budget pass, not even one penny."

Another PFP Legislator, Liu Wen-hsiung(劉文雄), suggested that the inspectors recruited by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) should throw out all the inspection results delivered before Tuesday and conduct a new, more thorough review of the system.

Bureau of High Speed Rail Deputy Director-General Hsu Chun-yi (許俊逸), who also participated in the press conference, said the THSRC should explain whether or how it managed to address the 28 major defects outlined in the IV&V report. He noted that the bureau cannot speak for the company.

Hsu said the bureau agreed to abide by the committee resolution, but that it cannot ask the THSRC to postpone the official opening of the high speed rail system if the company has done everything required of it in the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract and relevant regulations.

One of the THSRC's line clear vehicles was derailed near its station in Chiayi Country on Friday morning during routine inspections.

One of the company's bullet trains also derailed during a test run near the Kaohsiung station.

Earlier this month, Lloyd's Register published an IV&V report in which it identified 28 major defects.

The British certification authority has issued another report, which the MOTC received on Tuesday.

As the complete report remains confidential, how the defects were addressed remains unknown.

Lee Tai-ming (李泰明), director general of the Taiwan Area National Expressway Bureau and the chairman of the inspection committee, said a meeting to conclude the operability of the high speed rail will be held on Tuesday.

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