Wed, Aug 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

High-speed rail delayed


Taiwan's first high-speed rail service may be delayed because of a mismatch of European and Japanese train systems, a source close to the main Japanese contractor said yesterday.

A report in the Asahi Shimbun of Japan said the project may be delayed by as much as a year. But the Japanese contractor source, who requested anonymity, said the length of the delay was not known.

"The problem is not whether it would be delayed but how long it would be delayed. It's just a matter of time," the source said.

Taiwan's High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC), the main investor in the rail system originally forecast commercial operations would begin on Oct. 31 this year.

However, efforts to integrate European and Japanese components for the service have lagged.

THSRC declined to comment on the report of a delay.

"We're still working hard towards the target," a THSRC official said.

THSRC is required to report to the government on any change of the scheduled operation timetable one month ahead of the deadline for commercial services.

The link, which has been in the pipeline since the early 1990s, is seen as an attempt to modernize Taiwan's outdated infrastructure and prevent it from dragging down the economy.

The 345km track links the capital Taipei with the island's second city of Kaohsiung in the south and is expected to carry up to one million passengers a year and cut travel times.

Japan's Taiwan Shinkansen Consortium won the US$3 billion contract for the project in 1998.

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