Seven unanswered questions after tragic Taroko Express train crash

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — The Taroko Express train crash that resulted in 51 deaths and 188 injuries has shocked the Taiwanese people and beyond. The likely cause of the country’s worst train disaster in decades is an unmanned truck that rolled onto the rail track.

Yet, many questions have remained unanswered so far. To begin with, why the construction period of the slope project has been delayed time and again? People in the civil engineering field also criticized the absence of a guardrail on the slope at the accident site.

Local media further wondered why the construction site’s director stopped work and then returned to the site. Given the size of the construction area, why did someone illegally stop the engineering vehicle facing downhill? Did the builder submit a construction disaster prevention plan and traffic maintenance plan?

Seven unanswered questions after tragic Taroko Express train crash

  1. Why did the site director stop work and then return to the site?
  2. What were the safety requirements at the construction site? What were the requirements from the Taiwan Railways Administration?
  3. Did the driver pull the hand brake?
  4. Why did he park the truck facing downhill?
  5. Did the builder submit the construction disaster prevention plan and traffic maintenance plan?
  6. Why can a contractor win a bid if he has a criminal record? Did Taiwan Railways Administration know about it?
  7. Is the high number of casualties linked to the many people who bought standing tickets?

A representative of the Taipei Association of Civil Engineering Technician (台北市土木技師公會) told the United Daily News that contractors are required to submit construction disaster prevention plans and traffic maintenance plans for all government public works. “If they had been submitted and sent for external review, I believe the Taroko would not have had an accident,” he said.

Assuming that guardrails were installed, they could have prevented engineering vehicles, falling rocks, or just wood from sliding down the slope, meaning that they would not have fallen directly onto the railway track. The same is true with the traffic maintenance plan, it is necessary to ensure the smooth passage of trains going north and south, day and night, during the construction time.

Accordingly, observers have questioned whether the construction company submitted such plans from the start? Assuming that the company did, did the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA, 臺灣鐵路管理局) review them itself, or did it submit them for an external review?