Sat, Jan 21, 2006 - Page 11 News List

High speed train board revamped

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The government, the largest single shareholder of the high-speed train operator, has appointed two representatives to the company to help raise funds and complete a project that's been delayed for a year.

Vice Minister of Justice Wang Tian-sheng (王添盛) and John Yu (余俊彥), chairman of the government-run CTCI Foundation (中技社), were named as directors at a shareholders meeting yesterday. Walsin Lihwa Corp (華新麗華), a publicly traded cable maker, will nominate a director, expanding Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp's (台灣高鐵) board to 15 people.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is trying to help the NT$480 billion (US$15 billion) project complete its 345km link through Taiwan, after three failed fund-raising attempts delayed the service by a year.

With a start scheduled for Oct. 31, the 300km an hour train will cut traveling time from Taipei to Kaohsiung by two-thirds so that the trip will take 90 minutes.

"We're expanding our board to 15 members to better represent our shareholders," Nita Ing (殷琪), chairwoman of Taiwan High Speed Rail, said in the shareholders' meeting yesterday.

Taiwan High Speed Rail, 92 percent completed at the end of December, needs to raise another NT$65 billion, or almost 14 percent of its total cost, to enable the completion of construction and for future operations, said Jack Hsu (許俊逸), deputy director-general of Bureau of High Speed Rail, which oversees the project.

"We hope to strengthen monitoring and management by adding new board members," Hsu said.

Yu, 57, is also chairman of CTCI Corp (中鼎工程), a civil engineering company founded by CTCI Foundation.

Wang, 56, was a prosecutor and will represent China Aviation Development Foundation on the rail company's board.

The company failed three times since March 2005 to find investors for its shares until the government stepped in, buying NT$7.5 billion of preferred shares. The government's stake is held by the CTCI Foundation and the China Aviation Development Foundation, two state-run bodies.

Taiwan High Speed Rail said on Sept. 8 it would delay its service by a year because the installation of mechanical and electrical systems had fallen behind schedule. The delay raised the project's cost by 4 percent to NT$480 billion, according to company President George Liu (劉國治).

Taiwan High Speed Rail can carry up to 300,000 passengers everyday, for an average fare of NT$1,300 per person.

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