Sat, Mar 10, 2007 - Page 12 News List

THSRC plans to increase trains

PROGRESS Executive director Ou Chin-der said that problems that riddled the high speed rail's ticket machines and entry gates had largely been solved since January

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's high-speed rail operator announced it would increase the number of trains in operation at the end of the month to serve more passengers, a move that indicated improvements in the rail system and customer service, company officials said yesterday.

Starting on March 31, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) would increase the number of trains running in each direction on the north-south track from 19 to 23-25 per day, THSRC executive director Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said at a press gathering yesterday.

"We have been progressing well and are ready for more capacity," Ou said. "Recently we have had some Japanese passengers, who said our system was more stable than their Shikansen."

BOARD MEETING

The exact number of trains to be added would be determined by its board members, who will hold a meeting next week, Ou said.

However, the increase in trains still needed to be approved by the Bureau of High Speed Rail, Ou said.

THSRC is also planning a second train increase in early June, but details were still under discussion, Ou said.

Moreover, THSRC will open phone booking service starting on March 20, with which passengers can book tickets for trains two weeks ahead, and pick up the tickets 30 minutes before boarding, Ou said.

Arthur Chiang (江金山), a THSRC spokesman, said that the company would also set up ticket offices in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

He said the company was testing its Internet booking system but would not introduce it soon.

THSRC launched the high speed rail on Jan. 5 and had operated a total of 2,394 trains and transported more than 2.08 million passengers as of Thursday, Ou said.

In the first few days of inauguration, the company was sharply criticized by the public for frequent malfunctions in the ticketing system and entrance gates for the trains, which led to seats being double-booked and caused "traffic jams" at the entrance gates.

Ou said that the situation had improved.

Double bookings only occurred now at a single-digit ratio and the gates were functioning well with an average of 12.6 people passing each gate per minute, he said.

GROUP DISCOUNTS

At the end of this month, THSRC will also start offering 5 percent discount tickets to groups of 11 and above, Chiang said.

Some discounts will be also offered to enterprise members whose employees frequently take the high speed train, he said.

Chiang declined to reveal the company's financial details, saying that THSRC was in the process of issuing overseas convertible bonds worth about US$300 million, which meant that he was not allowed to release any financial data.

Chiang was also tight-lipped about the company's initial public offering, saying it needed to be approved by the board.

But he said the company welcomed any form of cooperation with China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) or EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) to offer combined ticket packages to customers.

Shares of THSRC advanced 0.32 percent to NT$9.45 on the Emerging Stock Market (興櫃市場).

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