To strengthen the supervision of railway safety and improve justice and objectiveness in major accident investigations, MOTC decided to establish "Operational Guidelines for MOTC Investigation on Major Railway Accidents" based on the Railway Act that was last amended in 2014. The establishment meeting was on Feb. 24, 2015 and the kick-off meeting was held on Apr. 14.
Looking back at investigation mechanisms in the last 40 years, regulations have evolved gradually. In 1978, clauses regarding accident investigation were first included in the Railway Act during the amendment but only execution measures were stated and MOTC was not held responsible for such investigations. Before official operation of the Taiwan HSR System in 2006, MOTC established the "Guidelines for Establishment and Operation of High Speed Rail Operational Accident Task Forces" to act as the standard in HSR incident investigations and to avoid public questioning of biased self-investigation within private railway corporations. With the continuous growth of Taiwan HSR operation, railway supervision became an even more significant matter over the years. Thus, in 2009, MOTC referred to investigation mechanism of railway accidents in other countries and advised to add regulation: "MOTC shall employ professionals to investigate the cause and details of major railway accidents" in the Railway Act. This regulation was added as Article No. 56-5, Clause No. 2 in Railway Act and finally promulgated by Legislative Yuan after the third reading in Jun. 18, 2014.
According to the "Operational Guidelines for MOTC Investigation on Major Railway Accidents", when encountering a major railway accident, which is defined as main line collision, main line derailment, main line fire or significant casualties, MOTC shall employ at least 7 investigation members including the Director of Railway Police Bureau, experts in civil engineering, electrical & mechanics and railway operation to assist in the investigation. Additional members can be employed depending on incident situation. According to the circumstances of each case, MOTC is certified to request the railway organization to explain, provide relevant records or equipment and conduct onsite inspections. Then, MOTC shall propose improvement measures according to investigated results. If the investigated cause turned out to be not operating under Railway Act regulations, or that the operating organization failed to execute improvement measures, MOTC is obliged to carry out penalty accordingly.
Starting from 2015, all major railway accidents will be investigated by both MOTC and externally-employed investigators. By implementing this mechanism, railway accident investigations will be more professional and objective and will drive improvement in operation equipment, operational staff, relevant procedures and safety management regulations in the overall railway organizations.