The Taipei City Government yesterday defended itself against criticism that the Mass Rapid Transit System's (MRT) Neihu Line commenced operation before its trial period ended.
Taipei City Secretariat deputy director Tan Kuo-kuang (譚國光), who also heads an emergency response team to handle problems on the MRT's Muzha and Neihu lines, told a press conference it was common practice for MRT systems around the world to check system stability after starting operations.
“The Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp [KRTC] also started stability checks after commencing operation,” Tan said.
Tan said that a final reliability check of the Neihu Line would not be conducted until the 51 pairs of trains previously traveling on the Muzha Line's Matra system are completely converted to fit the Neihu Line's Bombadier system.
Between six and eight trains can be converted per month, Tan said.
The Neihu Line was designed to be compatible with the Muzha Line's Matra system. Concerns about integrating the two systems were raised following a number of false alarms and malfunctions after the Neihu Line opened on July 4.
The Muzha and Neihu lines shut down completely at 3:30pm on Friday, stopping 21 trains carrying more than 9,000 passengers and forcing the evacuation of 700 people on trains that were stuck between stations.
Tan declined to comment when asked whether the final reliability check would not be conducted until after 14 months at the earliest.
“The [Neihu Line] system is not unstable. It has some flaws,” Tan said.
Tan said Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) found it unacceptable that passengers were forced to walk on the MRT rail during the evacuation last Friday.
“He said similar situations should never happen again. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation and the Department of Rapid Transit Systems should treat passengers like their own family,” Tan said.
Tan said a senior engineer from Bombadier had arrived at the Neihu depot to investigate the cause of the system malfunction.
He added that Bombadier had stationed about 130 of its project engineers in Taiwan, adding that the city government hoped the firm could dispatch more personnel to help solve the problems.
The mayor had asked the city government's Law and Regulation Commission to evaluate the possibility of seeking compensation from Bombadier for the malfunctions.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) yesterday criticized the breakdowns at the Neihu Line.
Cheng said the Neihu Line should stop operating until it passes a government construction review in May next year.
He said the city government should not test the Neihu Line during operations and should complete a test review before restarting operations.
He added that the No. 5 Freeway and the Taiwan High Speed Rail both began operations after passing construction reviews.
Cheng also urged the Control Yuan to investigate the Neihu Line's malfunctions.
In related developments, Control Yuan member Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) said the Control Yuan had requested information from the city government and would decide whether to investigate the operation of the Neihu Line after reviewing the documents.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG