Five railway maintenance workers were killed by an express train around 1am yesterday in Hualien County.
Hsu Da-wen (徐達文), the head of the Taiwan Railway Administration, resigned from his post over the accident yesterday.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) confirmed Hsu's resignation and expressed her regret for the accident.
Kuo said that the administration's failure to adhere to regulations lay at the root of a series of accidents at construction sites over the past few years.
The ministry will demand that the administration fully implement all required measures to ensure the safety of its workers, Kuo said.
The Hualien Fire Department was notified at 1:13am yesterday of five railway workers being hit by an express train in the county's Chungte (崇德) area.
When the fire department's rescue squad arrived at the scene, they found all five men dead.
Four of the bodies were lying close together, while the fifth was found further down the track. It is believed that the fifth man was dragged by the train after being hit.
Hsu, who was supposed to retire in July, paid a visit to the families of the dead and explained the cause of the accident.
He said he shared the families' pain over losing their loved ones.
"Having worked at the administration for 43 years, I don't think I have ever let the administration and its staff down. Now, it's time for me to leave, and my only hope is for the administration to operate forever," he said yesterday in Hualien.
Families of the five workers will receive compensation of around NT$7 million (US$215,000) or NT$8 million, the railway administration's deputy director-general Chen Feng-nan (陳峰男) said yesterday.
The workers had notified the Chungte stationmaster that they were going to carry out the repair work, but the station did not notify the incoming train to change tracks, DPA reported yesterday.
The train conductor said that he did not see the workers in the dark, and that there had been no signal to warn him to change tracks.