Taiwan train driver switched off speed control before deadly accident

Reuters was not able to reach the train driver, You Zhen-zhong, 48, for comment. He was granted bail of T$500,000 ($16,167) and barred from leaving Taiwan after being detained for the investigation.

You had been treated in hospital after the accident.

You’s public defender, Kou Tua-jai, said the driver knew he had to turn the protection system back on, but he had failed to do so because he was busy communicating with other coordinators due to a separate problem with the train’s speed.

“He admitted that he’s responsible for dereliction of duty, but he’d like to raise one point: there was something wrong with the train,” Kou told Reuters.

Kou said the driver said the speed shown on the train’s indicator was not its real speed.

Chief investigator Wu said more investigation was needed to determine why the driver failed to turn the protection system back on.

He said it was not immediately clear if the speed shown on the train’s indicator was different to its actual speed.

The disaster was Taiwan’s deadliest rail accident since a 1981 collision that killed 30 people.

The head of the state railway administration, Lu Jie-shen, had offered to resign but that was not accepted by the transport minister, the railway authority said.

Premier William Lai apologised for the accident on behalf of the government.

“People expected the railway to be the safest,” Lai told parliament.

“I apologise to the people on behalf of the Executive Yuan,” he said, referring to the island’s cabinet.

Train derailments are not uncommon on the island, which has rough, mountainous terrain, but deadly accidents are rare. 

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