Trial runs of the first line of Taichung’s MRT rail system were suspended after a major malfunction on Saturday, but city officials yesterday said that the line would still launch on Dec. 19.
Service was on Saturday afternoon suspended for one-and-a-half hours after a train on the system’s Green Line reported an abnormality at the Taichung High Speed Rail Station terminal.
After an investigation, Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp said it would suspend all trial runs until the problem was fixed.
Photo provided by the Taichung City Government
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the train’s manufacturer, said that a US-made coupling connecting two carriages had broken, which the company said had “never happened before.”
Taichung Transportation Bureau Director-General Yeh Chao-fu (葉昭甫) said that the trial was intended to uncover problems with the MRT system, receive passenger feedback and make improvements.
“As long as we are sure there are no safety concerns, we will resume the trial runs,” Yeh said, adding that the manufacturer must present safety certification before service can be restarted.
The process would yield solutions and there was no need to change the launch date, Yeh said.
Despite pressure to start formal operations of the system, the government would “not jump the gun on the launch unless we can be sure the system is safe,” he added.
As of early yesterday afternoon, there was no indication of when the trial would resume.
Kawasaki is also checking the other 17 trains to see if similar problems exist, Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp said.
The 16.71km Green Line, which started trial runs on Monday last week, had carried 485,000 passengers as of Saturday, it said.
The route extends from Beitun Main Station in the northeast to Taichung High Speed Rail Station in the southwest and serves 18 stations.
The NT$59.3 billion (US$2.1 billion) line — built with NT$32.8 billion from the central government — is expected to improve the integration of Taichung’s major transportation hubs, connecting the Songjhu (松竹) and Dasing (大慶) railway stations, the city’s high-speed rail station and a major intersection at Taichung City Hall, the company said.
The firm plans to build three more MRT lines in the city under a wider plan to improve Taichung’s public transportation system.
A feasibility study is being conducted for an east-west Blue Line that would intersect with the Green Line, connecting the Port of Taichung and the Taichung Railway Station, the company said.
The plan to build an MRT system was initiated in 2004, and construction began in 2009 under then-Taichung mayor Jason Hu (胡志強).
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