TAIPEI - The commutes of 14,000 train passengers were affected by a three-hour delay caused by damage to an overhead contact system on a section of track between the Qidu and Wudu train stations, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday.
According to the TRA, a train conductor discovered at 6:34 a.m. yesterday that a moveable arm supporting an overhead contact system between Wudu and Qidu had been dislodged.
The TRA said that repairs were finished at 9:24 a.m., but the three-hour delay affected 45 scheduled trains and about 14,000 passengers.
The TRA said that the administration is deeply sorry about this incident that caused delays in many passengers' travel schedules.
Among the 45 trains affected, eight were delayed for over 45 minutes, according to the TRA, and passengers can obtain full refunds for their tickets at any train station within a year.
Chen San-chi of the TRA said that the swing arm found to have been out of place was located near a tunnel, and the repair team found out that the damaged part of the swing arm had marks indicating it may have been struck by an external force.
"The evidence from the investigation suggests that the damage to the swing arm was not related to a deficiency in the materials used to make the component," said Chen.
According to the TRA, the overhead contact system between Qidu and Wudu train stations had been in use for only six months, with the incident marking the first time in the TRA network that such a new system had failed.
"Based on the repair team's report, the swing arm that showed signs of damage had been in use for over a year, and it could have been damaged by fallen rocks or people. Under regular circumstances, a swing arm can be used for over 10 years," said Chen.
Chen said that all rail routes with electrification infrastructure are equipped with swing arms to hold contact wires above trains.
"All swing arms are required to undergo regular maintenance," Chen said. "But after the incident, the TRA will work harder to find out the cause of the damage, and will also schedule more shifts for TRA workers to monitor railway systems."
According to the TRA, if the train driver had not discovered the problem with the swing arm and had continued to allow trains to traverse the section, the wires would have been destroyed, resulting in more serious damage to the entire system.