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Premier demands safety, stability in TRA reform

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) briefing on reforms to the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) in the wake of a deadly derailment involving a Taroko Express train in April this year. Transformation of the TRA is necessary, and draft amendments passed Thursday to the Railway Act primarily focus on safety and stability, he said, reiterating that TRA reforms are absolutely vital.

Regarding safety, the premier said nothing else matters without safety. He instructed the TRA to implement safety measures on the tracks, on the slopes, at construction sites, on the trains and during operations; nothing is to be overlooked. The government will also devote every effort to supporting TRA reforms, he pledged, instructing the MOTC and the Railway Bureau to oversee and manage all efforts closely.

Premier Su directed the TRA to establish warning and protective mechanisms, including whether water flow drainage on the side slopes are blocked or whether the water is flowing to an appropriate location. Additionally, the premier said the TRA should stay up with the times and strengthen on-the-job training for personnel working with new trains and operating methods. The TRA should tolerate no deficiencies and must strictly supervise the reform campaign in order to achieve safety first.

When it comes to stability, service to the public is the job of every TRA employee, from janitor to director, Premier Su said. The government thus has the responsibility to let them work and live in peace. The premier instructed the TRA to make sure workers understand that recent incidents and widespread demands from all sectors of society necessitate that the organization advance with the times, and undertake painful reforms. However, reforms will proceed with workers as a prime consideration. Workers' rights will remain fully intact, but they must also devote 100 percent to their responsibilities.

The draft amendments to the Railway Act are intended to clarify the supervisory responsibilities and accident investigation duties by the MOTC's Railway Bureau. The revitalization of state-run railway assets and promotion of railway tourism are also goals.

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