The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) yesterday said it would launch a female-designated passenger car service after a high school student was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male passenger on Wednesday morning.
TRA deputy director-general Chang Ying-huei (張應輝) said an investigation showed that the student boarded the Fuhsing-class train in Pingtung at 5:17am, adding that the train was headed to Fangliao (枋寮) and supposed to stop at every station along the way.
The student, surnamed Chang, sat in the fourth car. The train conductor also reported that he saw two passengers in the car.
“She indicated in her deposition to the police that the male passenger sexually assaulted her when the train passed through Jiadong (佳冬) at 6:26am,” Chang said.
“The train arrived in Fangliao at 6:37am. The incident occurred during those 11 minutes,” he said.
In response to a spate of recent incidents, Chang said the TRA plans to launch a female-designated passenger car service on 256 commuter trains that depart before 7am and after 9:30pm. He said the first car of the trains with this service would be designated for the use of women and girls.
The TRA also undertook to ensure that all stations are equipped with off-peak waiting areas for female passengers, Chang said.
“The on-board broadcast system will inform women passengers that they can sit in the first car if they are concerned about safety,” Chang said.
He said passengers would hear the new broadcast for the first time tomorrow.
While the TRA will encourage women passengers to use the first car, Chang said it would not be possible to ban male passengers from using the first car if they chose to do so.
“We are trying to address safety issues that may arise when a woman passenger is alone ... As a public transportation system, we serve both male and female customers,” Chang said. “We are not calling it a women-only passenger car to avoid discriminating against men.”
The Railway Police Bureau currently has 623 police officers with about 30 responsible for security on long-distance trains.
Short-distance trains are policed by officers stationed in the bureau’s branches nationwide, Railway Police Bureau (RPB) Deputy Director Fang Chien-fei (枋劍飛) said.
At present, 188 officers police the high-speed rail system, while the remainder are assigned to TRA trains, he said.
Fang also said the bureau plans to deploy more personnel to enhance passenger safety.
Meanwhile, the RPB launched “Project Eagle Eye” to establish a database on individuals with records of sexual harassment or assault on TRA trains and stations.