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THSR's recent performance 'unbearable': transportation minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The performance of the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) has been anything but bearable recently, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday.

Yeh's remarks were sparked by complaints from over 10,000 passengers whose schedules were delayed by a derailing switch signal failure on Sunday. The passengers slammed the THSR for its slow reaction to the incident and berated a hike in ticket prices as “unreasonable.”

“THSR Chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) should take full responsibility for the company's unbearable behavior. The Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) is planning to form a team of investigators within a week and invite railway experts from Japan and Europe to scout out problems,” said Yeh.

54 Derailing Switch Incidents Since Operation

Legislators blasted the THSR for the numerous times derailing switch signals have been found faulty when the Legislature's Transportation Committee reviewed the annual budget for national highways yesterday. “Since the THSR began operation, there have been 54 derailing switch signal failures. (The number) is outrageous,” said opposition lawmaker Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤).

Lee pointed out that the THSR encountered more than the normal amount of slips and had chanced upon three major train delays this year alone that affected more than 100,000 people in total. “The THSR's efficiency and ability to stay on schedule is questionable. People have even doubted the safety of the trains. Also, THSR personnel do not seem to be able to give clear directions every time a delay occurs, and many of them cannot answer passengers' questions,” Lee added.

Also brought up was the THSR's insistence on hiking ticket prices in August. “People have been relying on the THSR a lot. Despite its poor performances, it still insists on raising prices. Is this acceptable? The MOTC's handling of these issues is unsatisfactory as well,” said Lee.

Yeh stood behind Lee's remarks, saying that the THSR should boost its management efficiency, while THSR replied that it welcomes suggestions and will be making improvements in the future.

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