2018 Yilan train derailment
On 21 October 2018, a passenger train derailed in Yilan County, Taiwan, killing 18 people and injuring 187. At the time, it was Taiwan's deadliest rail accident since a collision near Miaoli in 1991 that killed 30 people.
|2018 Yilan train derailment|
|Date||21 October 2018 |
16:50 local time (UTC+8)
|Location||Xinma station, Su'ao, Yilan County|
70 km (43 mi) SE from Taipei
|Line||Yilan line, Eastern Trunk line|
|Operator||Taiwan Railways Administration|
|Service||6432 Puyuma express bound for Taitung|
|Cause||Excessive speed, inactive automatic train protection system|
|Red timestamp is time of crash, other timestamps are scheduled departures|
At 16:50 local time (UTC+8), a Puyuma express train, service 6432 from Shulin bound for Taitung, derailed on a curve with a radius of 300 metres (980 ft) when passing through the Xinma station in Yilan County, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Taipei. There were 366 passengers travelling on the train.
Of the eight carriages, numbers 3 through 8 toppled over and collided into each other in a "W" shape, while the rest went off the track with lesser damage. The front car was seen tipped over at an angle of 75 degrees, and most of the fatalities are believed to have been in this car. Survivor accounts claimed that the driver applied the emergency brake multiple times before the incident, and another claimed that the train sped up after the curve.
All trains in the eastern trunk line were halted in both directions, with replacement bus services provided. Hundreds of medics and firefighters, and 100 army troops responded to the scene. As of 21:35 local time all passengers, including the dead, had been removed/evacuated from the wreckage. The derailment is the worst train accident in Taiwan since 1991, when 30 people were killed in a collision near Miaoli.
At least 18 people were killed in the accident, with another 187 injured, all on board.
Six of the dead were reportedly under the age of 18. Taiwan's Railway Authority confirmed that 8 of the dead were of the same family, and the Health Ministry confirmed that 53 injured passengers remained in the hospital.
The train involved in the accident was built by the Japanese company Nippon Sharyo in 2011, and underwent major maintenance work in 2017. On 22 October 2018, it was reported that the driver of the train reported an issue with the main air compressor just before the derailment. The Chief Secretary of Taiwan Railways Administration, Chu Lai-shun, said that a full failure of the main air compressor would cause insufficient power and problems with deceleration, but should not cause a derailment. In addition, the train's automatic train protection (ATP) was disabled shortly before the derailment, which, according to the driver was because of an earlier fault which delayed the train. Prosecutors accused him of negligence for not turning it on again afterwards. Investigators believe that without ATP enabled, the train's speed was not properly monitored, which led to the train approaching the curve at a speed of 140 km/h (87 mph), almost twice the speed limit.
As part of the investigation, all 18 other Puyama trains in service on Taiwanese railways were thoroughly inspected. No fault was found. Nevertheless, a report by Chinese-language Apple Daily Sunday found that Taiwanese trains were experiencing problems with the ATP system, citing anonymous sources from within the TRA. As the investigation progressed, technical flaws with the connection of the train's protection system to the signalling centre were found with the Puyama trains, and Japanese manufacturer Nippon Sharyo promised the Taiwanese government it would fix the flaw by 11 November, with testing and certification expected to take a month.
The conclusion of the investigation was announced by a press release on 6 June by the Taiwan Yilan District Prosecutors Office. The direct causes of the incident were found to be excessive speed in the curve and the disabling of the train protection system by the driver, in breach of relevant operating regulations. Issues with the main air compressor were found not to be a contributing factor.
Improper management of the testing process of Puyuma trains, which caused an absence of testing of the ATP remote monitoring system, resulted in an indictment of the former Deputy Director of the TRA's Department of Rolling Stock and of the Chief of TRA's Central Dispatch Office. Other staff involved in the incident, such as dispatchers and mechanics, were found not to be liable, and no evidence of corruption or neglect of duty by public officials was reported.
In response to views that there were shortcomings in the initial investigation, the Taiwanese government converted the Aviation Safety Council (ASC), which previously only dealt with aviation accidents and incidents, into the comprehensive Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB), which also covers maritime and train accidents and incidents.
President Tsai Ing-wen called the accident a "major tragedy" and directed the government and military to "step up" rescue efforts. The President also called for an investigation into the crash, that would "make clear the timing and situation of the whole accident". In addition, "drastic reform of the TRA to restore public confidence in the safety of railway transportation" is to be carried out.
Other similar railway incidents:
Excessive speed around curves
- United Kingdom Morpeth rail crashes, 1969, 1984, 1994 – a total of 6 killed in three separate accidents
- Australia Waterfall train disaster, 2003 – 7 killed
- Japan Amagasaki derailment, 2005 - 107 killed
- Spain Santiago de Compostela derailment, 2013 – 79 killed
- United States Spuyten Duyvil derailment, 2013 – 4 killed
- United States 2015 Philadelphia train derailment – 8 killed
- United States 2017 Washington train derailment - 3 killed
Disabled train protection system
- United Kingdom Southall rail crash, 1997 – 7 killed
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- Media related to 2018 Yilan train derailment at Wikimedia Commons