Japanese manufacturer to fix Puyuma train design flaw: TRA

Taipei, The Japanese manufacturer of the Puyuma train model involved in a deadly derailment on Oct. 21 has promised to immediately fix a design flaw exposed by the crash, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said Monday.

Following the accident, it was discovered that the train did not automatically alert the dispatch control room when the driver turned off the train's automatic safety system, which prevents a train from traveling at excessive speeds.

There is an automatic train protection (ATP) system in every train and remote control systems in the Shulin and Hualien depots sending messages to the dispatch control room, but the two were never connected.

The Japanese company will create a link between the two, which the TRA is hoping will improve the safety of the Puyuma trains, known for their tilting features to travel faster on existing tracks.

The TRA said Nippon Sharyo, a subsidiary of Central Japan Railway Company, will start testing how the remote monitoring system connecting the ATP and the dispatch control center can work.

Based on the test results, which could be available within one to two days, the two sides will decide how much time they will need to install the feature on all 18 Puyuma trains in Taiwan's fleet.

According to the TRA, the fix will not cost it extra money, but it does not know yet whether it will seek compensation from Nippon Sharyo because the government is still reviewing the case.

"There won't be any action before the Japanese manufacturer and the Cabinet's investigation task force fully understand the situation. But we will do whatever is needed based on the contract," a TRA official said on the condition of anonymity.

According to various Japanese media last week, Nippon Sharyo discovered the flaw and said if the TRA asked, it would deal with it.

The company admitted it did not double check the feature before selling the trains to Taiwan, and it was unaware of the flaw because that model of train does not operate in Japan, the TRA said.

Speeding was to blame for the accident as Puyuma Express No. 6432 from New Taipei to Taitung derailed in Yilan while traveling at nearly twice the permissible speed limit as it entered a curve, leaving 18 dead and 200 injured.

Failing to pick up the flaw reflected problems with its internal quality control system, Nippon Sharyo said, but it did not believe the lack of a connection between the train and control room was the direct cause of the crash, as the driver did inform dispatchers he had turned off the ATP, Japanese media reported.

The driver, however, only reported that the ATP system was turned off just minutes before the crash occurred, and when it was reported, there was little urgency in the dispatcher's response.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel