More than 1,000 railway passengers were delayed yesterday due to problems with the electric wires at Fonglin Station (鳳林).
The incident has happened less than one month after the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) launched services on its electrified railway line between Hualien and Taitung.
It was also the second incident this week in which the trains have been delayed because of an electric wiring problem.
According to the administration, the incident happened at 12:22pm in the afternoon, when a commuter train heading from Hualien City to Yuli (玉里) in Hualien County found that the electric wires at Fonglin Station were out of order. The problem forced the train operator to deploy diesel-powered locomotives to continue two-way operations using only one railway line in the section between the county’s Wanrong (萬榮) and Nanping (南平).
The TRA said it managed to resume electrified service on two railway lines at 2:55pm. In total, the incident affected eight trains and delayed approximately 1,200 passengers.
Among them, only about 350 qualified for a full refund of their tickets because the three express trains they were on had been delayed by more than 45 minutes.
A preliminary investigation found that the electric wires were intact, but the pantograph — the device on the roof of an electric train that collects power through contact with the track’s overhead wire — appeared to have gotten wedged in the wires. The maintenance crew freed the wedged pantograph to enable electricity to resume flowing on the railway line.
A similar incident happened on Monday afternoon, when a commuter train from Keelung to Miaoli was forced to stop operation because of broken electric wires in the section between Songshan (松山) and Taipei. Nearly 20,000 passengers were affected by the incident, with approximately 4,500 qualifying for a full refund of the fare.
The administration said that the causes of both incidents will be investigated by its operation safety committee.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) apologized for Monday’s delays, adding that the TRA has been asked to review the maintenance procedures for the electric wires, as well as regulations governing train ticket refunds.
In other developments, the TRA said that all of its long-distance train services are to be equipped with nurseries by the end of next year.
Currently, about 70 percent of its long or medium-distance express trains offer such facilities to allow mothers to breastfeed their children without any interference.
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