| The train collision at Daegu Station occurred on Saturday was caused by a Mugunghwa train뭩 crashing into a KTX bullet train. Before the accident, the Mugunghwa train missed its signal and entered the main railway on which the bullet train was passing. Another KTX train from the opposite direction collided into the already derailed KTX train, causing the secondary accident. Though only four people were injured, the accident could have resulted in much more casualties. The accident shocked not only the 1,300 passengers, but also the entire nation.
The government investigation found that the main cause of the accident lied with the engineer of the Mugunghwa train who did not read the signals. However, the collision could have been prevented if the station controller or someone at the scene had stop the train. The KTX train involved in the secondary accident should also have been stopped by the engineer or the station controller. Therefore, the accident could be called a man-made disaster.
Therefore, the control system must be checked. For the Mugunghwa trains, two engineers used to be put to work so that one engineer focus on the operation while the other one communicating with the controller. But Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) began to have one engineer do all the work to reduce workforce. Also, the same size signals used for both the main and waiting railways at Daegu Station are easy to confuse engineers.
A similar accident occurred five years ago also at Daegu Station. And an error by the controller caused a KTX train to pass Seoul뭩 Yeongdeungpo Station without stop, which later had to back up to load passengers in January last year.
Most important value of a train is being on time and safe. But safety comes before being on time. Safety cannot be more emphasized when it comes to the bullet train because any small defects or controller errors can lead to massive casualties. Taking this accident as an opportunity, the authorities should conduct an overall inspection into codes of conduct of employees as well as the control system.