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TRA levies punishments for 228 traffic

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday announced the punishments for personnel involved in the 228 Memorial Day weekend traffic congestion.

On the first day of the 228 weekend, a massive delay was caused after an overhead electric cable was pulled down, and repairs were not made until 24 hours later. Over 61,000 passengers and 49 trains were affected by the outage.

The TRA said Deputy Director-General Ho Hsien-lin (何獻霖), who supervises the administration, will receive an admonition, noting that four other TRA officials will face punishments of admonitions and receive minor demerits.

The administration explained that after an investigation over the incident, it discovered that after the train that caused the delay drove from Hualien (花蓮) to Changhua (彰化) the night before Feb. 28, the overhead electric cable was already pulled down. The TRA went on to say that, however, the department in charge of maintenance work failed to discover the problem.

The TRA said based on an investigation report conducted by its traffic security committee, Ho did not properly supervise the administration, and the four other officials failed to carefully inspect and maintain the trains.

Apart from levying punishments on the five TRA officials, the administration said it urges all TRA department heads to review the incident and punish personnel should they find people accountable over the massive traffic delay.

Given that Deputy Minister of the Transportation and Communications Frank Fan (范植谷) has been serving concurrently as TRA director-general, lawmakers have been criticizing the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for not naming a sole chief of the TRA.

The MOTC responded to the criticism, saying that it is seeking an appropriate candidate to lead the TRA and hopes to be successful within one month.

On the other hand, with the rising popularity of using EasyCards and other electronic tickets to pay fares, the TRA for the first time amended its refund policy, allowing passengers who traveled by the electronic tickets to claim their refunds over the most recent delays. Around 4,000 passengers are eligible to claim refunds, the TRA said.

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