Taiwan - Thousands trapped; Rapid Transit System stalls - computer switch malfunctions

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Guess I should have waited before posting the previous article about Taiwan rolling back its clock on part of the rapid transit system. A computer glitch has occurred....

February 1, 2000

The Tapei Times, Taiwan

MRT breakdown of over one hour leaves big bill


Thousands of peak-period commuters found themselves trapped on the Taipei mass rapid transit system's (MRT) Chungho line ($$)M=u) for around 70 minutes early last night, due to a malfunction in a computer-controlled switch, according to local media reports yesterday.

The incident is believed to be the longest disruption since the MRT network started in March 1996.

The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC, %x%_169B$=%q) has agreed to pay NT$100 compensation to each passenger trapped on the trains. Around 6:00pm yesterday evening -- a time when subway trains are generally packed with commuters returning home -- a northbound train on the Chungho line suddenly got stuck in a 3km tunnel near Kuting Station (%j+F/8).

The train's panicking passenger reportedly believed the train had been derailed.

To guard the safety of the passengers, TRTC immediately sent an emergency train to pick up the trapped passengers.

However, due to the vast number of commuters, the transfer process took about 70 minutes.

TRTC has a contract with Chinatrust Commercial Bank under which, if MRT service is interrupted for more than 30 minutes, the affected passengers are entitled to claim NT$100 in compensation at the bank.

The Chungho line opened on Dec. 24, 1998 after seven years of construction.


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), February 23, 2000


December 31, 1999

The Taipei Times, Taiwan

MRT operations

There is still a possibility that trains may not operate or that an emergency situation may arise, despite the fact that the rapid transit system is supposed to be Y2K compliant. The millennium computer bug may influence MRT operations in the following ways:

* train operations * signal systems * power supply * communications system, including loudspeakers * ticket machines * water supply * escalators and elevators

Source: DORTS

htt p://www.taipeitimes.com/news/1999/12/31/story/0000017753

-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), February 23, 2000.

December 31, 1999

Y2K may strike MRT system, officials admit

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR: All eyes will be on the clock as the system begins a marathon run into the new year

By Erin Prelypchan, STAFF REPORTER

Despite months of testing and preparation, Taipei's rapid transit system may be crippled by the Y2K computer bug tonight, officials said yesterday.

"We don't dare say that we're 100 percent ready. We've tested, and everything has passed. But there's always a possibility that something could happen," said director-general of the Department of Rapid Transit Systems Chiang Yao-tsung (&?D#)v).

Trains, power and communications systems may all be affected, although safety is not likely to be a factor, department officials said.

The Y2K bug and MRT operations

There is still a possibility that trains may not operate or that an emergency situation may arise, despite the fact that the rapid transit system is supposed to be Y2K compliant.

"The fear is that it won't work, not that safety will be affected," said Fang Juang-lih ($h''@y), director of DORTS' (169B$u5{'=) data and information processing center and responsible for the MRT network's computer system.

Trains will run continuously from the first train this morning until 11pm tomorrow to ensure safety on the line and to encourage people to take the MRT to various millennium celebrations around the city, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (169B$u%q) announced.

If the power or signal computers are affected when the clock strikes midnight, mechanical brakes on trains can be activated, Chiang said. Doors open manually from the inside in the event that trains stop in a tunnel.

The MRT system passed a Y2K evaluation by the Cabinet's task force on the millennium bug in June, Chiang said.

The system's main control center will be staffed by additional engineers from DORTS, which was in charge of construction of the network, and the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, which runs and maintains it.

Trains are all being run locally instead of from the main control center, so failure of the main computer system would not affect trains, Chiang said.

Fire sprinklers in stations may trip off automatically at midnight, but they can be shut off manually in each station, Fang said. Ticket vending machines may also break down.

"If they do, well, I guess it's free rides for everyone," Chiang said.

MRT passengers and station attendants were sanguine about the effects of the Y2K bug on service.

"I think they're ready. I'm sure the government has thought of things we would never think of. They've tested everything, I think," said Chang Hui-chin (1i4f5^), an insurance salesperson who commutes on the Hsintien line every day.

"The government has spent a lot of time and money on testing for the Y2K bug. I'm sure it's fine," said Hank Huang, another regular Taipei commuter.

Both Chang and Huang said while they were not afraid of being on an MRT train at midnight, neither of them had any plans to do so.

"I'd be more afraid of taking a commercial airplane at midnight," Huang said. "They could crash. At least if the MRT broke down, we could walk to wherever we wanted to go."

A station attendant said he was a little nervous about being one of two people working at the Kuting Station tonight.

"I've heard they're ready ... but if the Y2K bug strikes, a lot of passengers are going to be really unhappy," he said.

htt p://www.taipeitimes.com/news/1999/12/31/story/0000017753

-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), February 23, 2000.

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