Rail delay possibly caused by man-made errors: TRA

MAINTENANCE ISSUES?:The TRA’s safety committee suspected that the lack of a supporting bolt caused an express train to move abnormally along power lines

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Mar 04, 2014 - Page 3

A preliminary investigation by the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) safety committee showed yesterday that the widespread train delays on Friday last week may have been caused by personnel errors rather than dilapidated electric wires.

Previously, the administration suspected that wires which have been used for 30 years may have been the cause of the incident.

However, the committee found that power collecting shoes, part of the train’s pantograph device, were likely to have caused the problem.

A pantograph is the piece of equipment on top of a train that collects power from the overhead cables.

Power collecting shoes are supported by two arms to ensure that the shoes remain below the power lines.

According to the committee, the shoes connect the pantograph to the power lines.

However, images recorded on the surveillance system showed that one of the arms was already missing when the train that caused the problems was driven through the station in Greater Taichung.

There were no traces of outside force found on the shoes, the committee said, adding that the bolt that was supposed to fasten the missing arm was missing.

The committee suspected that the lack of a supporting bolt caused the pantograph to move abnormally along the power lines.

The committee also found that the insulated track joint inside the No. 17 railway switch near Pusin Station (埔心) had shown signs of subsidence.

This caused the express train to swing more intensely when driven through the section.

The lack of protection from the arm caused the shoe to go on top of the power lines, breaking the hanger on the electric wires as well as the triangle rack on the utility poles.

The committee indicated that it still needs to look at the train’s maintenance records and determine if workers had thoroughly observed inspection procedures before the train left the station.

The committee’s investigation unit head, Wen Tsai-yen (溫彩炎), said the experts invited to attend the meeting yesterday suggested that the administration gather more information to identify the cause of the incident to avoid the same situation from happening again.