Boulder severs tracks on Taiwan’s east coast line: frequent landslides affect road and rail links since April 3 earthquake

Taiwan Railways reopened two-way traffic July 3, following a landslide that blocked road and rail links between Yilan and Hualien July 1, but traffic is reduced to a single line again today after a massive boulder fell onto tracks in the landslide-affected area.

Railway personnel reported that a huge boulder fell onto the railroad, severing train tracks between Heren and Chongde train stations at 6:21 am today, July 4. Passengers travelling on the line were told to expect 15-20 minute delays as traffic in both directions was reduced to a single line until repairs are made.

railway tracks severed by boulder on east coast line
Lines severed by fallen boulder July 4, 2024. Picture: Taiwan Railways Corporation.

Rockfalls and landslides have frequently affected road and rail links between Yilan County and Hualien since a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the area April 3. Since the April 3 quake, more than 1,000 aftershocks have shaken the area, and recent heavy rains have also increased the risk of landslides.

Train derailments caused by rockfalls and landslides occurred on April 11 and June 21. Road and rail links were cut when major landslides affected the area April 22 and July 1.

Fortunately, due to the increased risk, regular patrols to monitor track safety were put in place. It was one of these patrols that discovered the damaged tracks this morning.

Taiwan Railway Corporation said that electronic monitoring has been installed on some sections of the train line, but the boulder had fallen in a section not currently under electronic monitoring. TRC plans to extend the electronic monitoring system to cover the whole section in the near future.

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