Heavier administrative punishments have been finalized against three former directors-general of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) in connection with the fatal derailment of a Puyuma train in Yilan County on Oct. 21 last year.
In its final report issued on Monday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that Jason Lu (鹿潔身), the agency’s head at the time of the accident, would be given a major demerit and a demerit, instead of only a major demerit.
Lu had ignored the longstanding problems with the Puyuma train’s air compressor system, which played a major role in the crash, the report said.
It was because of a malfunctioning air compressor that train driver Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲) turned off the automatic train protection (ATP) system on Oct. 18, which prevents trains from speeding.
The train was traveling at about 140kph — double the speed limit — when it entered a curve near Suao Township’s (蘇澳) Sinma Station (新馬).
Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉), who was TRA’s head from 2014 to 2016, is to receive two demerits, instead of one.
Chou failed to implement strict inspections of train operations and continued to leave the ATP system unconnected with the central control room, which meant the TRA could not be immediately informed when a train’s ATP system was deactivated, the report said.
Frank Fan (范植谷), the longest-serving TRA head who is now chairman of the CR Classification Society, a state agency, was given the heaviest penalty — one major demerit and two demerits, instead of one demerit.
It was during his 2007 to 2014 tenure that the TRA purchased and took delivery of the Japanese-built Puyuma trains.
Fan was negligent in the purchase of the trains and their testing and operations, including overlooking the ATP problems, the report said.
The punishments for active officials would affect their performance evaluation and promotion opportunities, while retirees could see their pensions reduced, the ministry has said, though it refused to elaborate.
Lu chose to resign and retire.
The ministry’s initial recommendations of administrative punishments was made in December last year following an investigation into the accident by a government committee.
However, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) ordered the ministry to reopen the investigation after he took office in January, saying the punishments were too light.
Lin on April 17 announced that the punishments for Lu, Chou and Fan were being increased, but the ministry was waiting for the Executive Yuan to approve the revised list of TRA personnel subject to punishment.
The derailment of Puyuma Express No. 6432 from New Taipei City to Taitung killed 18 passengers and injured 267.
Yilan County prosecutors on June 6 indicted Yu and two TRA supervisors on charges of criminal negligence in connection with the derailment.
The three are awaiting trial.
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
MEDICINAL HERB: The FRIL protein extracted from hyacinth beans helped laboratory mice survive H1N1 infection and effectively neutralized the coronavirus A protein isolated from hyacinth beans, a medicinal herb known for centuries, has been found to restrict the activities of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses in laboratory experiments, a team of Academia Sinica researchers said yesterday. The beans’ curative effect is documented in the 16th-century Chinese medicine classic Compendium of Materia Medica (本草綱目) and they are also a food source in some countries, the Genomics Research Center’s Chemical Biology Division Director Alex Ma (馬徹) told a news conference in Taipei. Center senior research specialist Jan Jia-tsrong (詹家琮) experimented with up to 500 medicinal herbs to see if they could restrict influenza viruses and