• Kyodo

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A Japanese firm was found not guilty by a Taipei court on Thursday for the derailment of an express train that killed 18 people in 2018, local media reported.

The Central News Agency reported that the Taiwan Railways Administration had filed a lawsuit against Sumitomo Corp. and its affiliate in Taiwan seeking 612 million New Taiwan dollars ($22 million) in compensation.

The Japanese firm won a bid in 2011 to supply the TRA’s fleet of Puyuma tilting trains.

TRA argued that the Japanese contractor should be held responsible for the accident that investigators concluded was caused by two mechanical problems, as well as human error.

One problem concerns a flawed blueprint for wiring the connection of the train’s automatic train protection safety system to the control station. The other problem concerns air compressors that control the train’s brakes and power system.

However, the court dismissed the TRA’s legal complaint on the grounds that it failed to provide proof to substantiate its claim and that there is no considerable causal relationship between the Japanese firm’s alleged breach of contract and the damage caused by the accident, the report said.

The report said the TRA is studying the possibility of appealing the court decision.

Last October, the driver of the train was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for negligence causing death.

The court heard that he contributed to the derailment of the train by disabling its automatic train protection safety system, which prevents trains from speeding, and driving it at over 140 kilometers per hour, far in excess of the speed limit of 75 kph, when it came off the rails along a curve.

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