Wed, Aug 27, 2003 - Page 10 News List

High-speed rail buffers fail tests

STAFF WRITER

The north-south high-speed railway may not be completed on schedule, after track vibration buffers failed safety tests, Chinese-language media reported yesterday, although Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) officials said they will meet the deadline.

The buffer pads have failed three safety tests over the past year, the Liberty Times reported, without citing sources.

But THSRC vice president Edward Lin (林天送) said the tests are continuing and are not likely to delay the completion schedule.

Lin called the reports "a misunderstanding," saying the company has not changed its completion date.

A total of 170,000 vibration buffer sets will be used on the 300km railway, which is scheduled to begin operations in October 2005.

The buffers, which are inserted between the tracks and the railway base, have failed to meet European stability standards, despite improvements made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a partner in the Japanese consortium Taiwan Shinkansen, the report said.

Taiwan Shinkansen won the rail project in late 1999, beating its European rival Eurotrain.

THSRC has insisted on European standards for the rail tracks, while Mitsubishi has tried to meet such standards with Japanese components, the report said.

The report also said there have been disputes with the Japanese builders over how far European standards can be applied to Japanese rail systems, which use different technologies.

Mitsubishi is sending a team of engineers to Taiwan this week and another test is expected within two months, the report said.

The tests were conducted by the Institute of Applied Mechanics of the National Taiwan University.

Chen Chao-hsun (陳兆勛), a professor at the institute, said the railway's track fastener system "so far, has not met the regulations."

The problems must be rectified in the next month or two, before the institute completes its final report on the tests, Chen said.

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