The government is not planning to install X-ray machines at train stations for security inspections due to insufficient numbers of law enforcement personnel, as well as the inconvenience it would cause passengers, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.
An interdepartmental review was launched this month to enhance the safety of railway travel following an incident in which explosive devices were found on a high-speed train on April 12.
Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) said the explosive devices were located in two pieces of luggage in a women’s toilet on the train.
Bureau of High Speed Rail Division Director Young Cheng-chun (楊正君) said the bureau and representatives of THSRC, the Office of Homeland Security at the Executive Yuan, the National Police Agency, the Railway Police Bureau and Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) met yesterday to discuss the possibility of using X-ray machines to inspect passengers’ luggage.
“We concluded that THSRC and TRA train stations were not designed to house such a large facility [X-ray machines] and neither do they have enough space to accommodate passengers waiting in line to be inspected,” Young said. “Inspections by X-ray machines would disrupt the movement of the passengers inside stations.”
Young said the Railway Act (鐵路法) does not authorize the government to conduct such safety inspections and nor does the government have sufficient police officers to enforce them.
He added that safety inspections would mean passengers would have to arrive at stations much earlier than currently, which would be an inconvenience.
Though the officials considered that the X-ray machine proposal was not feasible in the short term, Young said the ministry would continue to evaluate the possibility of using them and the types of dangerous items carried by passengers.
Meanwhile, the representatives did agree to increase the numbers of surveillance cameras in THSRC and TRA train stations.
The officials plan to identify all the important locations inside stations where cameras should be installed and adjust their placement accordingly.
All high-speed rail stations, as well as the 14 busiest TRA stations, are also to be equipped with bomb suppression blankets.
The National Police Agency has also agreed to increase the number of personnel at the Railway Police Bureau. The bureau would also increase the frequency of police officers guarding trains, it said.
The ministry has proposed an amendment to the Railway Act to raise the penalty for passengers found carrying dangerous items from between NT$300 and NT$10,000 to between NT$3,000 and NT$50,000.
The ministry will define dangerous items within a week, Young said.