Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

First tilting trains to go into service within three years

MOVING FAST The new trains are part of a plan to upgrade the nation's railway system, with 544 railway cars being retired and 334 new ones added

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Railway Administra-tion (TRA) plans scrap 544 railway cars and replace them with 334 more advanced ones, including tilting trains.

According to the TRA's mechanical engineering department, the tilting trains, which have never before been used in Taiwan, will allow trains to hit an average speed of 110kph, 30kph higher than now, while also allowing for a smoother ride with fewer stops and speed changes.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) told the legislature yesterday that the TRA would be buying 180 of the tilting intercity rail cars and 154 rail cars for local routes.

The TRA hopes to phase out 544 old rail cars, or 25 percent of the total, by 2006.

TRA Deputy Director-General Hsu Ta-wen (徐達文) said that some rail cars now in use were more than 40 years old and the replacement of cars was necessary to upgrade the nation's railway service.

"To this day, many local trains still don't have air conditioning. However, by 2006, the new passenger cars will mean that all Taiwan's railway cars will be air conditioned," Hsu said.

TRA Director-General Huang Te-chih (黃德治) said that the administration would begin accepting bids for the local passenger cars and 48 of the tilting cars by the end of November.

A contract will be signed with the chosen manufacturer by the middle of next year, and the TRA would most likely have all of the new passenger trains by the end of 2006, Huang said.

The transport ministry said that the local passenger cars would cost NT$5.2 billion, and the tilting trains NT$10.3 billion.

Legislators complained, however, that the ministry was considering only foreign manufacturers.

Lin responded by saying his ministry had little choice.

"Because Taiwanese manufacturers do not have the experience necessary to build tilting trains, the bid will go to overseas manufacturers. However, Taiwanese manufacturers can work with overseas manufacturers," Lin said.

Only six manufacturers worldwide were able to build tilting trains, according to Huang.

Lin also denied accusations from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) that the ministry was allowing Chinese manufacturers to invest in the two projects. Lin explained that the law prohibits Chinese manufacturers from participating in the bidding process.

Nevertheless, Huang said that Chinese investors could be contracted by the chosen manufacturer to produce railway components outside of the train's tractive unit, bogie and control system.

"Mainland Chinese manufacturers will not produce more than 30 percent of the project. Most likely, production will be limited to wheels and other such components," Hsu said.

Hsu said that some of the decommissioned passenger cars would be preserved for cultural and educational purposes while others would be sold abroad.

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