Mon, Jan 13, 2003 - Page 10 News List

BES may pick up stalled airport rail project

STAFF WRITER

The Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail (高鐵局), which is under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has granted priority rights to BES Engineering Corp (中華工程) to take over the aborted transit-line project linking Taipei and CKS International Airport, local Chinese-language newspapers reported yesterday.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said if BES agrees to the contract for the airport-rail project, it could begin construction after 60 days.

BES became eligable for the deal after Evertransit International Development Corp (長生國際開發) was uable to meet its contractual obligation by securing loans before the Dec. 31 deadline.

According to the report, BES has expressed interest in taking over the project, vowing that it will not "give up any opportunity," and will re-evaluate the design scheme and conduct negotiations with the government after studying the contract. The original 35km railway blueprint designed six years ago, including transport routes, passenger volume, ticket fares and financing details, needs to be reviewed and updated, BES said.

BES has 15 days to decide whether it will take over the project, Lin said, at which time it will be required to seal the agreement with the bureau within 45 days.

The ministry will respect Taipei County officials' input regarding the direct airport link and make the best decision after taking into consideration the overall transportation planning picture, Lin said.

Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) wants the rail line to pass through certain parts of his county.

Cabinet spokesman Chuang Shuo-han (莊碩漢) said that the government will consider whether the transport routes need to be changed, according to the report.

If BES decides to pass on the project, the government may re-open another round of bidding, or it may side with one of its back-up plans. One plan calls for adding an 8km extension to the north-south Taiwan high-speed rail system, from Ching-pu station to the CKS International.

Another alternative would be to extend the 19.2km coal-line railway section between Linkou and Taoyuan City to the airport, allowing travelers take that railway system non-stop to the airport.

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