South-Link rail line suspended until tomorrow
CNATAIPEI--Service on the railway line between Pingtung and Taitung in Southern Taiwan, which has been disrupted by a train derailment, may not resume until Tuesday due to the difficult repair work, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) officials said Sunday.
September 2, 2013, 12:23 am TWN
Large machines are unable to reach the site of the derailment due to limited space inside the tunnel where the train derailed, slowing the repair work, said the TRA, which estimated a day earlier that service on the railway line would resume Sept. 2.
Four cars on the Tze-Chiang Express train — the third to sixth — derailed inside the tunnel in Pingtung when the train struck a mudslide one day earlier during a heavy downpour.
The sixth car was dragged out of the tunnel earlier Sunday, followed by the third car, and authorities are currently working to pull out the remaining cars.
The express train, traveling at 90 kilometers per hour, struck the mudslide at the entrance of Pingtung Fangshan No. 2 tunnel on Saturday, resulting in a decoupling between the fifth and sixth cars and derailment of the second to fifth cars, according to the TRA.
Seventeen of the 250 passengers on board were injured, though all were rescued on Saturday.
President Ma Ying-jeou visited the site of the train derailment Sunday morning, asking the TRA to prevent similar disasters from occurring.
During his visit, the president prodded the railway administration to determine which stretches of railway are vulnerable to mudslides, improve the early-warning system and strengthen containing walls along railway tracks.
The president, who changed his morning schedule to view the scene of the derailment, arrived at the Pingtung Rail Station at 9:30 this morning and rode a construction rail car to the site where a train was derailed and stranded at the midpoint in a tunnel, after the track leading into the tunnel was buried by a mudslide Saturday morning.
The mudslide was triggered by torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm Kong-Rey, which barreled through the eastern part of the island on Thursday.
In addition to the South-Link line, service on the Pingxi railway line was also suspended at 11 a.m. Sunday due to rocks falling on the tracks, the TRA said.
Meanwhile, the popular Alishan forest railway suspended service on Sunday after rain battered the mountainous areas in Alishan in Chiayi County.
The government said Sunday that it will install more slope stability systems along the railway line between Pingtung and Taitung in southern Taiwan to guarantee early monitoring of mudslides, which caused a train derailment one day earlier.
The government plans to invest NT$5 billion (US$167 million) in strengthening slope stability monitoring systems after it finishes the electrification of the South-Link railway line, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih when answering reporters' questions at a local forum on city development.
The electrification of the South-Link line is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020, following a similar upgrade for the railway line between Hualien and Taitung in Eastern Taiwan, which will be finished later this year, according to the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).
Asked about safety concerns regarding the recently launched Wugu-Yangmei viaduct, following the discovery of cracks on the road after a heavy downpour in August, Yeh said the cracks might have been caused by excessive groundwater discharges, though the ministry will review the structural design of the viaduct.
The minister's remarks came one day after a Tze-Chiang Express train struck a mudslide during a heavy downpour along the South-Link line, resulting in a decoupling between the fifth and sixth cars and derailment of the second to fifth cars.