The government is to step up security measures on railway systems by increasing the number of surveillance cameras on trains and possibly introducing passenger security checks, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday.
Yeh made the comments during a legislative question-and-answer session that focused on an incident on Friday in which homemade explosive devices were found in suitcases in a restroom on a Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) train.
About three hours after the two suitcases containing explosive devices and gasoline were discovered on the train, two similar bombs were found in front of the office of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Chia-chen (盧嘉辰) in New Taipei City (新北市).
Lu said it was the most serious security incident in the nation’s transportation history.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that if an explosion occurred on a fully-loaded train traveling at a speed of almost 300kph it could cost about 1,000 lives.
He said the government should strengthen police patrols, improve and increase surveillance and monitoring systems and hold regular security drills.
In response, Yeh said that because the police force does not have sufficient manpower, more security guards would be employed to strengthen security at THSR and Taiwan Railways Administration stations.
Since subway systems fall under the jurisdiction of local governments, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would also coordinate with local governments to increase the number of security personnel in subway systems within a month, Yeh added.
On the issue of passenger security checks, Yeh said that China is the only country in the world that employs this measure.
However, “we could consider doing the same,” Yeh said, adding that the ministry would study the feasibility of installing X-ray scanners at every station along railway lines and would come up with a report in a month’s time.
The Bureau of High Speed Rail is considering installing surveillance systems in trains’ luggage areas and at its stations’ entrances and exits, bureau Director-General Chu Shu (朱樹) said.
However, it is unlikely that surveillance systems will be installed in train carriages, in consideration of personal privacy and also because new surveillance systems are not compatible with the old train carriages, he said.