Tue, Oct 31, 2017 - Page 3 News List

TRA prices will not rise: Hochen

ACCIDENTAL PYRAMID:People should be concerned about small railway issues, because they might lead to major accidents later on, Legislator Lee Kun-tse said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) ticket prices will not be raised for a year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said yesterday, after lawmakers questioned the legitimacy of price hikes, citing the operator’s incident record.

Hochen made the promise to lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee when faced with questions about three railway incidents on the west coast on Sunday night that disrupted service, affecting more than 10,000 passengers.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications had previously supported the TRA’s proposal to raise its ticket prices, which have not been adjusted for 22 years, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.

However, incidents have happened one after another over the past two weeks, such as overhead electric cables breaking on Sunday, disrupting both southbound and northbound services, and the Puyuma Express derailing on Tuesday last week, Lin said.

The incidents have caused Premier William Lai (賴清德) and Hochen to think twice about raising ticket prices, as it is no longer a financial issue, he said.

“It has turned into a political issue and the TRA’s image is at stake. Consumers cannot possibly support a price hike from an agency that offers lousy service and allows incidents to happen frequently, even if prices have remained unchanged for 22 years,” he said.

Between January and August, 311 railway incidents happened in the TRA system, 30 of which were major, in addition to seven derailments and 18 regular incidents, DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said.

Meanwhile, about 200 incidents involved abnormalities detected during operations, Lee added.

“Like a pyramid, you have smaller incidents at the bottom, which could lead to major accidents at the top. This is the greatest concern that people should have with the railway system,” Lee said.

The ministry is to spend a month investigating each type of incident and finding ways to address them, Hochen said, adding that Sunday’s incidents showed that maintenance quality needs improvement.

“We will seek improvement through technology and recruit more workers to boost employees’ morale. We will show the public that the train system is improving,” he said.

Hochen also said that the ministry has rejected the TRA’s ticket price adjustment plan.

“The main reason is because the agency has yet to provide reliable service quality. Some of the data presented to us in the plan was analyzed based on unreasonable hypotheses. The ticket price will remain unchanged for another year,” he said.

The TRA must elevate its service quality and improve the punctuality of its trains before the plan can be discussed again, he added.

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