Faulty Brakes a Suspect in Taiwan Crash

A train derailed in Taiwan on Sunday, causing a number of fatalities and injuring hundreds of passengers. Two theories emerged as to why the train went off the tracks, both involving brakes.

According to a CNN article on the Taiwan derailment,

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation, but at a news conference Monday transport ministry officials said they were looking into speed as a possible factor, as well as a report filed by the driver 20 minutes before the incident that said the air pressure in the train’s brakes was “too low.”
Lai Sui-chin, vice chairman of the transport ministry’s electrical engineering department, said that it appeared that pressure in the brakes was unstable before the derailment. He said there wouldn’t be enough power to brake the train if the air pressure was too low.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, focused on the automatic braking system:

A critical safety system may not have been operating on a Taiwanese train that crashed Sunday, killing 18 people and injuring at least 187 others, according to the director-general of the Taiwan Railways Administration.

Lu Chieh-shen said he suspected that the driver of the train had switched off his automatic train protection system, which applies the brake automatically whenever a train exceeds the speed limit, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported Monday. However, Mr. Lu stressed in the interview it was too early to know for sure what had caused the island’s worst rail disaster in almost three decades.

Earlier in The Brake Report: Automatic braking for trains is critical


Ben Nussbaum
Ben Nussbaum

Ben Nussbaum, Chief Content Officer of The Brake Report, has more than 20 years experience in publishing. He was the founding editor for USA Today's line of special interest magazines and the founding editor for i5 Publishing's newsstand one-off magazine program. He lives outside Washington, D.C. Email him at [email protected].