Rules on carrying hazardous items on trains tightened

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 - Page 3

Train passengers will soon be barred from carrying paint, bottled gas, firecrackers or other dangerous items on board following a recent amendment to the Railway Transport Rules (鐵路運送規則), the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.

The amendment was proposed following an incident in April, in which explosive devices, which fortunately did not explode, were found in the toilet of a northbound high-speed rail train.

The ministry decided to amend the Railway Transport Rules in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (危險物品空運管理辦法), which covers explosives, flammable substances and other potentially dangerous items.

Railway passengers violating the new Railway Transport Rules face penalties of between NT$300 and NT$3,000, although those carrying medical equipment, lighters, matches or alcohol below 70 percent proof would not be fined.

According to the ministry, passengers have previously been found on trains with paint, turpentine, banana oil, bottled gas for barbecues, firecrackers, high-proof alcohol, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. The new rules, which take effect later this week, would authorize railway personnel to check any suspicious item.

Depending on the severity of the situation, as well as being fined passengers violating the new rules may be asked to leave the train at the next station, or to leave train stations.

The ministry said some legislators have planned to propose an amendment that would raise the penalty for passengers taking banned items on board to between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000.

The new rules have received mixed reactions from passengers, with some not considering paint to be a dangerous item, while others said they are willing to follow the new rules and say the government should launch an awareness campaign to promote them.

Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), the nation’s largest train operator, said that some types of paint are inflammable and could endanger public safety.

The state-run railway service said that there have been disputes in the past because the old rules did not provide clear definitions for dangerous items, adding that as it does not have X-ray machines at stations, TRA personnel would need to watch out for suspicious items.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) said that it would request that railway police handle any potentially dangerous items.

In other developments, the high-speed rail operator announced yesterday that it would offer discounts of between 30 and 50 percent on ticket prices for passengers aged between 12 and 19 on some train services.

The special discount for young people is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1, and would apply to both local and foreign passengers. THSRC said the 50 percent discount will be offered on 91 train services each week, while 158 services will offer the 30 percent discount.

To enjoy the special discount, passengers must present a photo ID showing their date of birth and each young passenger is entitled to buy one ticket under the scheme.