Wed, Oct 31, 2007 - Page 2 News List

TRA stops EMU700 trial runs after problems emerge

SERVICE The TRA originally estimated that the second set of EMU carriages would be put into operation last month, but so far the testing has not been completed

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) said yesterday that it has been forced to stop trial operations of its newly purchased EMU700-model commuter trains three times because of a series of problems found during the testing process.

The nation's largest railway company purchased a total of 160 EMU700-model train cars from local contractor Taiwan Rolling Stock Co (TRSC, 台灣車輛公司).

The company formed a technical partnership with the Japanese manufacturer Nippon Sharyo, the original designer of EMU series.

Twelve of the TRA-ordered trains were made by Nippon Sharyo Co, and the other 148 cars were manufactured by Taiwan Rolling Stock.

The first set of EMU700 commuter trains, consisting of four cars, began operations at the end of August and were used mainly to carry commuters between Hsinchu and Hualien.

The TRA issued a statement yesterday saying that problems emerged when the administration began testing the second set of EMU700 train carriages. The on-board broadcasting system, for example, was supposed to be automatically activated whenever the train entered a station. Likewise, the LED panels in each car should also correctly inform passengers about the train's next stop and provide other passenger information.

According to the statement, none of these systems functioned properly when tested.

Meanwhile, TRA inspectors have identified other issues, such as problems with the train's passenger seats, car doors and air-conditioning system.

The statement said the administration originally estimated that the second set of EMU carriages would begin operations last month. So far, the testing has not been completed.

The administration said that it was concerned that the delay is going to affect the service it provides. It also said there are no replacements for the first set of EMU trains if a problem develops. Without them, the administration cannot retire all the old trains that are still in use between Hsinchu and Hualien, it said.

TRA spokesperson Chang Ying-huei (張應輝) said yesterday that they will do everything they can to stick to the terms stated in the contract.

Chang said that the contract dictated that the administration is entitled to seek compensation from TRSC if the testing takes longer than 30 days.

He also said that TRSC will be asked to pay about NT$258,000 each day after the expiration date.

"The accumulated penalty has so far reached NT$17 million," he added.

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