Thu, Apr 09, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Drop in business forces THSRC to mull changes

OFF THE RAILS To lower costs, the firm cut top executive salaries at the beginning of last month and reduced the number of train services by 13 percent


Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) said it was reexamining its organizational and personnel structures after it failed to boost falling passenger traffic, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Tuesday.

The operator of the high-speed rail system said passenger traffic began its decline in November last year, the first decline since the company launched its service in February 2007, because of the global financial crisis.

Passenger traffic volume has fallen back to the level of April last year, the report said, citing statistics compiled by the company.

Since its launch, THSRC’s passenger numbers continued to grow until the global financial crisis forced local travelers to cut back on trips. The company’s statistics showed that passenger traffic reached an average of 95,000 passengers in one day last August, while passenger numbers also surpassed 90,000 per day in September and October last year. But the situation was reversed in November.

In January, during the Lunar New Year holiday, the number of passengers traveling on THSRC’s trains hit 89,000 per day, but the numbers dropped to a daily average of 85,000 in February and last month.

Although many high-tech firms located in the Hsinchu Science Park have recently reported an increase of rush orders from China, Taipei-based THSRC said it had not seen signs of recovery in the local economy as passenger numbers still remained low.

To lower costs, THSRC cut top executive salaries at the beginning of last month, while reducing the number of trains for the first time since it launched the service by 126 trains per week from March 16, or a 13 percent reduction.

To utilize the workforce more efficiently, the company has increased the number of train attendants from three to four per train and the attendants are now also responsible for cleaning the carriages from Monday to Thursday, instead of an outsourced cleaning crew.

Although THSRC does not plan to cut any staff, it said if economic conditions continue to deteriorate and supply outstrips demand, the company would need to adjust its personnel numbers.

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