More than 9,000 people traveling on Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) trains were delayed yesterday because of snapped electricity cables between Shuangsi (雙溪) and Santiago (三貂嶺) caused by trees sliding from the embankment along the tracks.
The incident came just one day after more than 6,000 travelers were delayed when a commuter train failed to following the signaling system and broke a railway switch.
The railway said that it received a damage report at 7:25am yesterday from the driver of the No. 204 express train heading from Shulin (樹林) in New Taipei City to Jhihben (知本) in Taitung County.
The driver reported that trees sliding from the embankment had caused 150m of the electric cables to fall off, and damaged five sets of triangular cantilever brackets and one counterweight.
The incident cut the power to the eastern railway line, forcing the railroad agency to use the west railway for two-way traffic.
The tree slide and broken cables were cleared about four hours later, the agency said.
Chen Shih-chi (陳仕其), head of the agency’s Construction Department, said that heavy rain in the Shuangsi-Santiago section over the weekend and strong wind yesterday morning, could have been contributing factors in the incident, causing the erosion that led to the tree slide.
The agency’s train safety committee is investigating the cause of the incident, Chen said.
TRA crews have been routinely been walking along the railway tracks on Mondays to check for abnormalities, and inspecting embankments once a month, he said.
Except on the South Railway Line and Yilan Line, which have been prone to landslides, the agency has rarely faced incidents like yesterday’s and the Shuangsi-Santiago section had not had trouble previously.
Agency statistics showed that 34 trains and about 9,300 passengers were affected by yesterday’s disruption.
Those traveling on the No. 204 express train were delayed for 80 minutes and are entitled to apply for a full refund of their tickets.
Meanwhile, the train safety committee’s investigation in Sunday’s incident determined that it had been caused by the negligence of the northbound commuter train (No. 3183) driver, who had not followed the signaling system.
The committee’s report said the driver stopped the train as soon as he realized he had hit a railway switch, and the following trains avoided collisions by obeying the signaling system.
The driver of the No. 3813 train, surnamed Wang (李), and Chiayi transport group chief, surnamed Wang (王), have been given major demerits and removed from their posts because of Sunday’s incident. Other supervisors were given warnings or minor demerits.
The southbound commuter train driver, who reported yesterday’s problem in time, was given a major merit.