The final railcar of Taroko Express No. 408, which was involved in a deadly crash on Friday last week that left 50 people dead and more than 200 injured, was removed from the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien County late on Tuesday.
The first car of the eight-car train — which crashed into a crane truck that had rolled onto the tracks, derailed and slammed into the wall of the tunnel — was hauled out from the tunnel by an excavator at 10:52pm.
As it emerged, a large portion of the front left of the carriage, running from the nose to behind the driver’s compartment, was revealed to be missing, apparently shorn off by the impact of the collision.
After removing the railcar, workers paused to light incense and pray for the souls of those killed, before lifting it back onto the tracks to be towed away.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who was at the site to oversee the work, on Facebook early yesterday expressed thanks to the more than 100 people who worked in rotations around the clock to remove the damaged cars.
Having cleared the tunnel, workers are to lay new tracks and railroad ties, replace signals and electrical equipment, and make any repairs required after a structural analysis of the tunnel, Lin said.
Lin also thanked the charity and religious groups that have made donations and lent their assistance at the crash site.
Hopefully, service on the affected line would be restored soon, once it is confirmed as safe, he said.
As of 11am yesterday, a notice on the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Web site said that service on the southbound track between Heren (和仁) and Chongde (崇德) stations where the accident occurred is expected to resume tomorrow morning.
In the interim, the TRA is using the parallel northbound line to keep train services running on the east coast.
Friday’s crash occurred at 9:28am as the Taroko Express No. 408 was traveling south from Shulin (樹林) Station in New Taipei City to Taitung County.
An initial investigation has found that the crane truck belonging to contractor Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥) at a construction site above the southbound track slid down an incline onto the track 90 seconds before the train approached.
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