Mon, Dec 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ko backs discarded rail route

DERAILED?Taipei’s mayor-elect invited condemnation by advocating for a rail link between Yilan and the capital that threatens an environmentally sensitive area

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

A man yesterday strikes a pose alongside Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je at a bubble soccer game in Taipei.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Independent Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday triggered controversy when he said after a meeting with Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) that a planned rail line connecting Taipei and Yilan should take the shortest route possible to save time, even though the that plan had been rejected over ecological and environmental concerns.

“Commissioner Lin and I touched on the issue of the planned new rail line between Taipei and Yilan during the meeting, and we both agreed that the rail line should take the shorter route,” Ko said after the hour-long talks at Yilan County Hall yesterday morning.

“Of course, environmental impacts are an issue, but we will leave them to be solved by the professionals,” he added.

Ko added that if the environmental issues could be solved, then the shorter route should be chosen.

The shorter route — or “route A”— was an option when the government earlier considered constructing a direct line between Taipei and Yilan to solve traffic problems.

However, since route A would pass through an ecologically sensitive area near the Fetsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫) that supplies water to Taipei and part of New Taipei City, it was rejected.

Instead, “route B” — a curved path avoiding the area — was chosen. Route B would add 14 minutes to the trip.

Elaborating on the issue later in Taipei, Ko said that he and Lin prefer route A because of the time it could save.

“The public’s time should be an important factor to consider,” Ko said. “If route A could save 14 minutes for a traveler, and if there are 10,000 travelers taking the train a day, you would be surprised to see how much time is saved.”

He said that the route chosen by the central government was “dodging the environmental issue.”

“We should look for a way to succeed, not excuses for failure,” Ko said. “The decision [to take route B] is dodging the environmental issue; we should first try to see if the environmental issues could be solved. If they can, then we should of course choose route A. If they cannot, then we would go to route B.”

When asked whether he would accept route B if he finds that the environmental issues cannot be solved, Ko said: “We should try very hard to see if we can find a solution when we run into a problem.”

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