Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Transport projects ahead of schedule, president says

By Rick Chu and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan's high-speed railway project and the Taipei-Ilan freeway projects are both progressing ahead of schedule and will definitely be completed by 2005, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

He described the two projects as an indicator of the efficiency of the DPP government's rule.

"Many people criticize A-bian and the government for inefficiency, but construction of the high-speed railway project began after A-bian was elected, and will be completed within his term in office. This proves the efficiency of the government and the entire international team [working on] the high-speed railway," Chen said.

"This fact shows us that one will eventually succeed as long as one has reformist ideals, maintains enthusiasm for reforms and never abandons hope. We have power because we believe," Chen said.

As part of a nationawide tour accompanied by media heads, Chen arrived in Miaoli County yesterday to inspect the construction of the high-speed railway station in Wujih.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said a trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung would take only 90 minutes once the high-speed railway has been completed, and any place in the western-Taiwan corridor could be reached within a day.

Taiwan High-speed Rail Corp chairwoman Nita Ing (殷琪) and the ministry's high-speed railway chief He (何煖軒) have guaranteed that the railway will be completed by October next year, Chen said.

According to Lin, starting from 2006, all townships in western Taiwan will be accessible from urban centers in the region within an hour. Residents from townships with populations of 50,000 or larger will be able to reach freeway interchanges within half an hour, and reach the nearest airport within an hour, Lin said. People will be able to reach any urban center from any other within two hours, she said.

"I was just elected in March 2000 when construction of the high-speed railway started. I did not attend the ground-breaking ceremony. However, based on government [policy] continuity and because of the fact that the high-speed railway is the biggest BOT project between the government and the private sector, [the project] must succeed. I have the obligation, responsibility and sense of mission to make it successful," Chen said.

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