Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said yesterday that the ministry will ask the Bureau of High Speed Rail to check if there is any earthquake alarm technology for high-speed trains that will help the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) react quicker in the event of big quakes.
“The THSRC adopted its earthquake-resistance mechanism following the 921 earthquake in 1999, and incorporated some of the best technologies available back then. The train system can actually withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake,” Mao said. “I have asked the bureau to see if there are any new technologies available.”
Regarding a proposal to establish an earthquake alarm system like that used in Japan, Mao said that the ministry would listen to opinions from experts as the situations in Taiwan and Japan are different. He said that most metropolitan areas in Japan are on its east side, so it installed electric cables along the Pacific coastline with the hope of buying some time when issuing an earthquake alarm.
“The metropolitan areas in Taiwan are mostly on the west side. However, many of the faults are on land. If an earthquake happens, we hardly have any time to react in advance,” Mao said
The bureau’s director-general Ju Hsu (朱旭) said that the THSRC had considered using the same system as in Japan’s Shinkansen system, but Japanese engineers said it would not work for Taiwan.
Mao was asked to brief the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday on new measures the ministry was planning to execute this year. Both the Democratic Progressive Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), however, questioned Mao over problems facing the nation’s high-speed rail system.
Mao said that the THSRC’s earthquake resistance system had ensured the safety of passengers when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan last week.
What the company could work to improve is the time it takes to move passengers from stranded trains to safer locations, he said.
The THSRC has had to cut back its services since the quake to repair damage, offering only non-reserved seating, which has angered passengers who purchased advance tickets. It is scheduled to resume normal operations today.
Mounting public anger saw Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) visit Taipei Train Station yesterday for a briefing from THSRC chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德).