Wed, Aug 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Airport Rail will not be opened this year: MOTC

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A section of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line, which is still under construction, is pictured yesterday. Damage from Typhoon Soudelor caused the derailment of an engineering locomotive, and a large number of track pads were found to have been damaged.

Photo copied from the Bureau of High Speed Rail Web site

Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) yesterday announced that the much-anticipated Airport Rail cannot become operational by the end of this year, adding that the official date to launch the system would have to be determined after a comprehensive evaluation by experts at the end of this month.

After a previous postponement, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) had been scheduled to launch the Airport Rail system by the end of this year.

Last month, Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Allen Hu (胡湘麟) had said that the official launch date might change because its integrated system testing was behind schedule by almost three months.

The quality of the Airport Rail system was put further in question after a construction vehicle was derailed on the railway track on Monday.

Chen said the derailment happened because the Operation Control Center thought the construction vehicle had passed the railway, which then activated the electric derailment device. He said the problem exposed a software design issue that needs to be addressed.

Chen also mentioned the flooding in the A1 station of the railway, saying that he had asked the bureau to find out why a pump was not working properly to prevent flooding. It also needs to identify the location through which water leaks into the tunnel, he said.

Chen said the bureau would invite experts to jointly examine the entire system and make suggestions.

“Based on those suggestions, we will determine when the railway system can begin operations,” he said. “It is unlikely that we will launch the system at the end of this year.”

Chen said the Airport Rail can only be launched if it is proven to be safe. He said the system must secure reliability of 99 percent continuously for seven days at the stage of the simulative testing. Engineers would have to start the test all over again if the test results on any day falls below 99 percent, he said.

In other developments, the Railway Reconstruction Bureau yesterday said an electrified, dual-tracked railway line between Pingtung City and Chaojhou (潮州) is to begin operations on Sunday.

Currently, passengers of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) traveling along the nation’s west coast can only use the electrified railway service until Pingtung. Those traveling to stations south of Pingtung or to the east coast have to wait at Pingtung Station for the trains to switch to diesel-powered locomotives, and the number of the trains available is limited because the trains are operated on single-track system.

The Railway Reconstruction Bureau said the electrified, dual-track Pingtung-Chaojhou line would shorten the interval between trains from 34 minutes to 19 minutes. The number of daily passenger service trains available would also increase by 60 per day to 107.

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