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Technical issues freeze HSR for 1st time

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan High Speed Rail (台灣高鐵, THSR) yesterday morning announced an emergency halt to all scheduled trains due to signal malfunctions at Taichung Station (台中站), canceling a total of 44 trains and causing delays for approximately 35,000 passengers.

The THSR had planned for the trains to resume operations at 9:30 a.m., but further delayed the trains to 10:30 a.m. and then 11:30 a.m., leading waiting passengers to complain to station staff. The trains resumed operations after the technical malfunctions were fixed, opening all carriages to the waiting passengers.

Passengers were forced to wait at all THSR stations and flooded Taipei Main Station, Hsinchu Station and Kaoshiung Zuoying Station. Angry complaints filed by the waiting passengers kept station staff busy the entire morning, the THSR said.

The High Speed Rail had until now only suspended all trains before due to typhoons and earthquakes. The incident yesterday was the first all-out cancellation of services due to a technical malfunction, said Premier Jiang Yi-huah, after listening to the THSR malfunction report of Transportation and Communications Minister Yeh Kuang-zhi.

The first signal malfunction led the THSR to form an emergency team, and allowed passengers a one-year period to request a refund, said Yeh.

According to Yeh, the THSR will not be offering compensation to passengers affected by the delay yesterday, since they had not yet boarded their trains, but all passengers are allowed to return their tickets for a refund.

Yeh added that Taiwan Railways added extra trains to transport passengers delayed by the THSR freeze, but many passengers decided to wait for the THSR resumption as it would be less time-consuming.

Seven additional trains were dispatched from Taipei and Hsinchu starting from 10:30 a.m., with another transporting passengers between Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung at 20-minute intervals in between, said Yeh.

The THSR resumed operations according to its regular schedule at 11:30 a.m., but the cause or causes of the signal malfunctions are still under investigation, according to the THSR.

Former First Lady and Legislators' Schedules Delayed

Passengers delayed by the canceled trains included former first lady Wu Shu-chen, originally set to board the 10:10 a.m. train from Zuoying on her way to visit husband Chen Shui-bian, who is serving a prison sentence at Pei-de Prison Hospital. Wu later arrived in Taichung on the 11:10 train. Also delayed on a visit to Chen was former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who was scheduled to take the 10 a.m. train.

Kuomintang Legislator Lu Shou-yen encountered her second THSR delay yesterday. Her previous experience resulted from the explosives found on the High Speed Rail earlier this month. DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei had to fly from Kaohsiung to Magong on the Penghu Islands in order to reach Taipei, where he was scheduled to attend an Economics Committee meeting at the Legislative Yuan.

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 Staff might face punishment after 44 HSR trains cancelled 
Passengers flood the Zuoying High Speed Rail (高鐵) Station in Kaohsiung, yesterday. All THSR trains were canceled due to a signal malfunction, with the majority of passengers willing to wait for the trains to resume operation. (CNA)

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