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 (
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 (
"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 (
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 (
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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