About 91 percent of trains in Taiwan met the current measure of punctuality where the trains arrived within five minutes of their timetabled arrival at their final destination. This number is the lowest in 10 years. Many believe the root causes of lack of punctuality has something to do with the TRA's labor shortage as well as it's operating procedures.
At the Taipei Main Station, passengers are busy hauling their luggage on to the trains. According to Taiwan Railways Administration, about 91 percent the trains arrived at their destination on time in 2018, which is the lowest in ten years. Last year, the tardiness of all of the trains in Taiwan amounted to 529,000 minutes, which means that the amount of time behind scheduled added up by all the trains in one day is more than 1,000 minutes.
(The train is) not necessarily late at departure, but by the time I arrive at the company, I was late by more than one hour.
The travelers don't always follow the rules. Those who try to get on the trains sometimes don't yield the way for those who are getting off. If the train is late by two to three minutes at each stop, then the total amount of time missed would certainly amount to tens of minutes.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the common causes of delays have to do with hardware. The top reason, accounting for 18 percent of all the tardiness, is hardware malfunction on trains. The second most common reason, account for 15 percent of the tardiness, is the malfunction of signal lights. Natural disasters and derailing are also among the more popular reasons. Since Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) considers a train delayed only when it arrives more than five minutes behind schedule, this has led some to criticize the TRA for giving room for imprecision.
This culture of imprecision manifests in all areas. For instance, when we look at the management of personnel and equipment, the skills are passed from teachers to their disciples. This means that workers will do what their older peers tell them to do (instead of following a set of standard operating procedures). The TRA also suffers from a labor shortage. This is a complex issue.
The railway association has pointed out that the TRA relies too much on the pupil-teacher system and suffers from a lack of standard operating procedure as well as the structure of internal control for risk management. The scholar said these issues reflect an absence of clear management in the TRA and he has called on the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to consider pushing a structural reform in the system.