Fri, Jul 05, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Agency to review safety gear for railway police

DANGEROUS TIMES:The TRA is to spend one month evaluating all its onboard safety measures, including passenger and luggage screening before boarding

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday said that it would spend one month reviewing the safety equipment that its personnel should carry onboard after a railway police officer was fatally stabbed by a passenger.

The police officer, Lee Cheng-han (李承翰), was stabbed by a 54-year-old suspect, surnamed Cheng (鄭), who boarded the train in Tainan without a ticket and went berserk when the train conductor asked him to buy one, the Chiayi branch of the Railway Police Bureau said.

The family of Lee will receive the best possible compensation, Executive Yuan spokesperson Kolas Yotaka quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying.

TRA’s Transportation Department head Chang Ching-song (張錦松) said that the agency would evaluate all its onboard safety measures, including the safety equipment that conductors should carry when on duty and whether passengers should be asked to pass safety inspection gates before boarding.

At present, conductors are each given a wooden baton to handle unruly passengers.

However, most of them often leave the batons in the office, as carrying a long baton at work is a hassle, he said.

The Executive Yuan will also proceed with a plan to add 260 police officers to the Railway Police Bureau in October, Kolas said.

Police equipment are to be upgraded to ensure the safety of every member of the police force, she said.

The TRA had previously considered screening passengers and their luggage for weapons or other dangerous items that could cause harm, but it gave up the idea amid concern that it might affect passenger traffic inside the train stations, Chang said.

Asked how the agency plans to stop passengers without tickets from boarding, Chang said that passengers are supposed to buy tickets first before boarding according to the agency’s regulations.

They are also prohibited from carrying dangerous items onboard, he added.

“Sometimes our staff might allow passengers to board the train and buy tickets later if there is a long interval between trains and if they board the last train service of the day. We did not expect a passenger to abuse this privilege, which led to the tragedy,” he said.

The TRA would explore measures to ensure that the policy requiring passengers to buy tickets first would be strictly implemented.

The agency collects about NT$40 million (US$1.29 million) each year from passengers who bought tickets after boarding or who were found to have boarded trains without tickets, which include a fine, Chang said.

This was not the first fatal incident on a public transport system caused by a disruptive passenger.

On July 7, 2016, 25 people sustained light to heavy injuries on a northbound train before it entered Songshan Railway Station due to an explosion caused by a suicide bomber at one of the train carriages.

On May 21, 2014, a man, Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), went on a mass stabbing spree on the Blue Line of the Taipei Metro System, killing four passengers and injuring 24.

Additional reporting by CNA

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