The long-awaited Neihu MRT line was completed yesterday, with commercial services set to begin on Saturday.
The construction project began in May 2002 and Neihu is the city’s last district to be connected to the system. The Neihu line will extend the total length of the MRT network from 78km to 93km.
Commissioner of the Department of Transportation Tom Chang (常岐德) said yesterday he hoped to see the MRT system span 100km by next year.
Chang said it was a challenge to integrate the systems of the Muzha and Neihu lines, adding that he was glad to see the department overcame the difficulties and completed the project this month as promised.
The 14.8km line, an extension of the Muzha line, connects the Muzha line’s Zhongshan Junior High School station to the Nankang line’s Taipei Nankang Exhibition Center. The Nangang Exhibition Hall Station will serve as a transfer station between the Brown (Muzha-Neihu) Line and the Blue (Nankang-Yongning) Line. Aside from Songshan Airport station and Dazhi station, the entire Neihu line runs above ground.
With the completion of the rail line, it will take only 12 minutes to travel from Songshan Airport to Taipei Train Station and 21 minutes from Songshan Airport to Nankang Exhibition Center. The trip from Nankang Exhibition Center to Taipei Zoo will take 44 minutes.
The Neihu line will be open for trial runs today, tomorrow and Wednesday afternoon. Those riding the MRT lines with the EasyCard will be entitled to a discount of 50 percent from Saturday through next Monday.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who took a ride on the system with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), Premier Liu Chao-shuan (劉兆玄) and former Taipei mayors Hsu Shui-deh and Thomas Huang (黃大洲), said he had mixed feelings about the completion of the project.
During his term as Taipei mayor, Ma said he saw the completion of six MRT lines, but the Neihu line was the only one that he planned and did not see finalized.
The project was under construction for four-and-a-half years during his stint as Taipei mayor and two-and-a-half years during Hau’s term, Ma said.
The Taipei City Council resolved in September 2001 that the Neihu line would be built above ground with a medium passenger capacity. Thanks to his efforts, Ma said, Songshan Airport was added to the route, driving up the price tag by NT$6.2 billion (US$1.9 billion).
Hau yesterday pledged to minimize the noise created by the line. He also promised to complete or begin the construction of one more MRT line every year until 2014. He said that after the Neihu Line becomes operational, he expected to see the real estate prices in the area rise by 10 percent to 20 percent.