Train driver sentenced over derailment that took 18 lives, injured more than 200

The driver of a train that derailed in Yilan County, Taiwan, in October 2018, was sentenced to a four-year, six-month prison term after being found guilty of professional negligence causing death, by the Yilan District Court today, Monday, October 18.

The court found that Yu Chen-chung (尤振仲) was responsible for the inspection and passing of the Automatic Train Protection System (ATP), which Yu admitted he had turned off before the accident. The ATP was designed to automatically slow the train down when it exceeded the speed limit.

On October 21, 2018, the Puyuma express train derailed and overturned at Su’ao Xinma Station in rural Yilan County, resulting in 18 deaths and more than 200 minor and serious injuries.

A Taiwan Transportation Safety Board investigation into the accident found that the train passed the station and entered a 75-kilometer-per-hour-limited curve at a speed of 141 kilometers per hour before eight carriages left the rails.

On June 6, 2019, the Yilan District Prosecutor’s Office indicted the driver, Yu Chen-chung, former Deputy Director of the TRA’s Department of Rolling Stock, Liu Canhuang, Chief of TRA’s Central Dispatch Office, Wu Rongqin, and three Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employees. The three unnamed employees, who included dispatchers and mechanics were later determined to be not liable.

However, the court today determined that Yu had turned off the ATP system without authorization, and then driven the train at high speed, which was the main cause of the accident. Yu showed no remorse after committing the crime. At 11:00 am this morning, October 18, the judge ruled that Yu was guilty of professional negligence causing death. Yu’s sentence of 4 years and six months in prison fell within the five-year maximum term for the crime of negligent homicide.

Liu and Wu were judged not guilty in the derailment of the train and death and injury to passengers, with no significant causality in relation to the crash.

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