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May 27, 2017

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Plane, train accidents spark transportation concerns

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) engineering maintenance vehicle crashed into a railroad switch at Minxiong station yesterday, delaying 42 trains; this was the second significant transportation-related mishap in two days.

A TRA engineering maintenance vehicle crashed into a railroad switch at Minxiong station in Chiayi, causing railroad signal breakdown at 5:09 a.m. yesterday. Although the problem was solved and two-way traffic resumed at 7:53 a.m., the accident still delayed 42 trains and 7,800 passengers.

Another transportation-related accident occurred at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Aug. 19, when a Taoyuan International Airport Services Co. Ltd. ground vehicle bumped into a TransAsia Airways aircraft and damaged its cargo bay door. Sixty-eight passengers were delayed for one and a half hours and had to take a substitute plane due to the accident.

Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) stated that the top principle of transportation is safety. The two accidents, both caused by human error and occurring within such a short space of time, demonstrate that the transportation systems of the nation still have room for improvement. Fortunately, no one was injured, he said.

Lu Chieh-shen (鹿潔身), deputy director-general of the TRA, indicated that given the torrential rain seen in parts of Southern Taiwan recently, several road foundations around Minxiong need to be repaired. The reconstruction work took place at night and was delayed in the early morning yesterday.

To depart from the reconstruction site as soon as possible, the driver of the maintenance vehicle failed to check the railroad switch or contact the staff of the train station, causing him to drive over and crush the device.

"The particulars of the accident have been sent to the relevant organization for further investigation," said Lu.

He went on to say that workers will continue to examine the reconstruction site at night and the driver who violated traffic regulations will be investigated for possible dereliction of duty.

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