Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Kuo sets deadline for inspection

HIGH-SPEED RAIL The minister of transportation and communications is unhappy with the lack of progress in getting an operation and maintenance system set up

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) ordered the Bureau of High Speed Rail to turn in a pre-launch testing and inspection plan within two weeks, saying she was displeased over a delay in preparation work ahead of the opening of bullet train service in October.

"I am upset because the director [of the bureau] said they have done their best," Kuo said. "They should have finished stipulating all the regulations for operation and maintenance by February, but no progress has been made."

Kuo told reporters yesterday that the ministry would not have time to improve the train's system if the bureau didn't do anything before Aug. 1, the scheduled date for pre-launch testing of the railway.

She said the ministry might consider breaking down the pre-launch tests so that different items could be reviewed at different stages.

Kuo said she did not regret the decision to put her job on the line over the start date, adding that it was a personal issue.

Last month she promised to step down if the train failed to become operational by October.

However, bureau Director Wu Fu-hsiang (吳福祥) said yesterday that the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) had already given the bureau an operation and maintenance plan that detailed 155 items, of which 72 were either in the stage of initial consideration or further review.

Wu reiterated that the goal of having the railway fully operational by October remained unchanged.

Wu said the foreign drivers would be able to operate the trains during the initial stage of operation once they take a license test and an orientation exam to familiarize themselves with rail conditions.

THSRC representative Ted Chia (賈先德) said the required guidelines had been completed but that changes would be made later, after pre-launch testing starts in August.

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