The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) yesterday said that it is seeking damages from the Keelung City Government for the collapse of a pedestrian skywalk crossing which disrupted train services on Saturday.
The collapsing skywalk broke electric cabling, forcing the TRA to operate two-way services using a single track in the section between Keelung and Cidu (七堵) for the entire day.
According to the railroad, the incident delayed 55 train services and affected approximately 9,800 passengers.
A 22-year-old woman surnamed Chan (詹) also suffered concussion and temporary amnesia after falling from the bridge.
“The incident was caused by the collapse of a pedestrian skywalk crossing, which is maintained and managed by the Keelung City Government,” the railroad said in a statement.
“Therefore, the TRA will seek compensation for damage to equipment and the impact on train operations [from the city],” it added.
However, passengers would not be able to seek compensation or ticket refunds because the TRA was not responsible for the cause of the incident, the railroad said, adding that it was also a victim of the incident.
The collapse of the pedestrian crossing has brought the quality of bridges in Keelung under scrutiny.
According to the city’s Department of Public Works, the city has 182 bridges. Forty-seven of them have been placed on a priority list for immediate repair as they may be cause for safety concerns.
The city budgeted NT$10 million (US$336,000) three years ago for such repairs.
However, the collapsed skywalk crossing is not on the list.
A nationwide bridge maintenance survey carried out by the Institute of Transportation, a think tank under the Ministry of Transportation, listed Keelung under the category of requiring “immediate improvement.”
Although maintenance work was needed on 152 bridges in the city last year, none of it is yet complete.
Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) said that the overpass that fell was considered an old bridge, but not a dangerous one.
“We recently checked the bridge and we do not know why [the collapse] occurred following the earthquake,” Chang said. “The deck of the bridge was still intact.”
Chang said he hopes that the central government can provide funding to rebuild the pedestrian skywalk as well as to relocate the railway station.
The city government has decided to build a makeshift steel bridge for pedestrians after the collapse. In the meantime, it installed barriers to create a temporary passage for pedestrians on a motor-vehicle overpass next to the collapsed crossing.