Thu, Jun 06, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Taipei-Yilan HSR line being assessed, minister says

BIG SURPRISE:Extending the network would facilitate tourism to Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung talks to reporters at the Taiwan Railways Administration headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is assessing the possibility of extending the high-speed rail network to Yilan County, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

Lin made the remark to reporters when discussing the ministry’s proposed solution to ease traffic congestion on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) following an event commemorating the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) 132nd anniversary.

He first mentioned the plan during a visit to the traffic control center in New Taipei City’s Pinglin District (坪林) on Tuesday.

Aside from building a rail line linking Taipei and Yilan, Li yesterday said the ministry is considering extending the high-speed rail network to the county.

The announcement came as a surprise to some.

Yilan County Commissioner Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was ridiculed after proposing the same idea when campaigning for office, with many saying that she might as well propose extending the high-speed rail line to outer space.

Lin Chia-lung said the ministry is also considering extending the network to Pingtung County.

There are a lot of people who travel between Taipei and Yilan, and extending the network would facilitate tourism to Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties, he said.

Asked about the ministry’s plan to build a Taipei-Yilan rail link, which would be administered by the TRA, Lin Chia-lung said that there are many variables to the plan, which is undergoing a second-stage environmental impact assessment.

Under such circumstances, the ministry is evaluating the possibility of building a high-speed rail extension to Yilan, he said, adding that the ministry is open to any possibility.

The ministry has pushed for reforms at the TRA, including increasing recruitment to address a shortage of railway workers, acquiring new train carriages and launching a new ticketing system, he said.

In other news, Taoyuan International Airport Corp yesterday said that it plans to reopen bidding for construction of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 3 at the end of this month, after it failed to attract bidders for the contract for the third time on Tuesday.

The company divided the construction into two parts — the building itself, and the mechanical and electrical systems within — to facilitate the bidding process after no contractor submitted a tender for the project in July last year. Its subsequent failures to secure a contractor means that the ministry might have to postpone its target completion date, which is currently 2023.

Asked about the delay to the start of construction, Lin Chia-lung said that the airport company had increased its budget for the project, but it still seems to be insufficient, adding that the would carefully assess the firm’s decision.

In addition to reducing the items included in the contract to move up the start of construction, he said the company is also open to any suggestions from interested contractors that would reduce costs and risks.

“We know that construction is going to be a challenging task, given the funding and items included,” Lin Chia-lung said. “There would also be a shortage of construction workers, which we will discuss with the Ministry of Labor to find a resolution.”

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