Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Taipei-Kaohsiung high-speed line nearly complete

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The High Speed Rail bureau yesterday announced that the 345km line between Taipei and Kaohsiung is near completion, and will begin operations in October this year.

"So far, we have finished 54 percent of the overall project. But the construction [of the rail line] is 99 percent complete. The plan to launch the bullet train by October is still on track," said Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒), Director-General of the bureau.

With a speed of 300kph and snaking its way through Taiwan's industrialized western plain, the giant rail line will cut travel time between Taipei and Kaohsiung down to 90 minutes.

The project, which began in 2000, employed more than 20,000 workers.

"It is a real feat. We didn't expect we would complete the project on time when we began four years ago," said Hsu Gui-lin (許桂臨), secretary-general of the bureau.

The bureau and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) also implemented safety measures taking typhoons and earthquakes into account.

"We have a weephole every five meters and enough pumping systems to deal with a sudden rise in water levels," said T.C. Kao (高聰忠), vice president of the project.

Kao also said the building material can handle major earthquakes.

"We have conducted numerous tests. I am sure the [railway line] will be safe at any given moment," Ho said.

Meanwhile, faced with criticism that vibrations caused by the bullet train will affect chip manufacturing facilities at the Southern Taiwan Science Park, officials said three electronics makers in the park have taken quality control measures to avert potential problems.

According to Tai Chien (戴謙) director-general of the Southern Taiwan Science Park Administration, the factory of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), is about 500m away from the line so the decibel levels will not pose a problem. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is about 620m away from the rail line, so the 57 decibels coming from the train wouldn't be a problem either, Tai said.

As for United Microelectronics Corp's (聯電) factory -- about 550m away from the rail line -- the decibel level there is below 56, Tai said.

"These are just figures measured outside the factories. I know that producers in the science park will reduce the sound pressure from noise of the train on their own. All agree that these decibel levels outside the factories are acceptable," Tai added.

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