Taipei, The driver of a Puyuma train involved in a deadly derailment in October 2018 has been listed for administrative punishment for the first time, Deputy Transportation Minister Wang Kwotsai said Monday.
The latest group of those who will be subject to punishment for their roles in the accident consists of the driver, Yu Chenchung and nine other Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employees, Wang said.
Railway authorities had been waiting for the results of an investigation by prosecutors to add the 10 to the group of 20 people already disciplined for the accident, but they decided to list the 10 Monday even though the investigation remains ongoing.
Wang said the ministry felt it was necessary to add the driver to the latest list after the case was reopened by new Transportation Minister Lin Chialung who took office on Jan. 14.
Lin was unhappy with the administrative penalties given the original 20 people, believing they were too light.
A second round of recommended punishments were completed by Taiwan's Railway Bureau in March, but Lin rejected them again because there were no changes made.
Lin assigned Wang to come up with a new list, and Wang said that after six internal meetings, the ministry decided to give 10 other TRA people, including the driver, administrative punishments.
The punishments recommended were not released publicly, and they still have to be approved Lin and the Executive Yuan, Wang said.
The Apple Daily reported that the ministry also stiffened the "demerits" and "reprimands" given to some of the original 20 TRA people punished late last year.
Among the 20 punished were three former TRA directorgenerals, Lu Chiehshen Chou Yunghui and Frank Fan but sources indicate only Fan, who is now retired, the report said.
The tougher penalties could affect Fan's pension.
The ministry would not confirm those stiffer penalties, however.
An investigation report on the crash released by a Cabinet investigation task force at the end of November 2018 held the driver partially responsible for the crash because he turned off an automatic train protection (ATP) system, which prevents trains from speeding, without informing the control center in a timely manner.
He increased the train's speed after it underwent power problems he believed to be caused by a malfunction of air compressors, according to investigators.
The Puyuma express No. 6432 eventually derailed in Yilan in northeastern Taiwan while traveling at nearly twice the permissible speed limit as it entered a curve, leaving 18 dead and 200 injured.
The report noted, however, that the driver's actions were taken under extenuating circumstances, including the mechanical malfunction, the TRA's poor troubleshooting ability and support, and the lack of standard operating procedures.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel