Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Ministry approves ticket price for high speed rail

GUINEA PIGS?During the test run period, passengers traveling between Banciao in the north and Tsoying in the south will only pay NT$730 for an economy seat

By Shelley Shan, Lisa Wang and Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday approved the ticket price plan of the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC).

The ticket price from Banciao (板橋) to Tsoying (左營) remains NT$1,460 for an economy-class seat and NT$2,390 for a seat in business class.

The processing fee charged for returning tickets was set at between NT$13 and NT$30.

There is no difference in price between trains operating in rush and non-rush hours.

MOTC Vice Minister Ho Nuan-hsuen (何煖軒) said the ministry in general approves the ticket price plan THSRC submitted earlier. The ministry, however, hoped that the company could offer discounts on some fares during the initial stages of operation to encourage more people to take the high speed rail.

"The company will not be violating the law if it decides to set the price at the maximum amount allowed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract," Ho said.

He added that it is up to the company whether it will give a special discount to passengers during the trial operation and whether it will report the discounted ticket price to the ministry. Both measures will not generate legal issues, he said.

Regarding ticket prices for the elderly and the disabled, Ho said that the company, by law, could ask for government compensation. The compensation package will be determined after the ministry evaluates the company's performance at the end of the first-year of operation, he said.

According to Ho, the ticket-price approval was sent to the company yesterday. The company should have sufficient time to announce it to the public before trial operations begin.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had asked the company to consider lowering the price so that people might feel more comfortable about taking the train.

Despite this, the ministry still approved the High Speed Rail's original ticket plan with few changes.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp yesterday said it would postpone the train's test run to next Friday rather than next Monday as previously planned. Ticket prices on the day would sell at a 50 percent discount, company spokesman Arthur Chiang (江金山) said.

Passengers traveling between Banciao in the north and Tsoying in the south will have to pay NT$730 for an economy seat during the test operation, instead of the full NT$1,460.

The price would be lower than the standard train ticket of NT$845, Chiang said.

The operator of the nation's first bullet train will conduct the test run for 10 days, ending on Jan. 14, he added.

THSRC planned to operate a total of 38 trains a day during the test run period, Chiang said. The trains will link 7 major cities on the west coast of the nation.

The Consumers' Foundation yesterday lashed out at THSRC's ticket pricing, insurance and refund regulations, saying that consumers' rights and interests would be greatly damaged by the proposed fee structure.

The foundation said that at a basic rate of NT$3.65 per passenger-kilometer, the north-south price should be only NT$1,243.

The foundation also urged THSRC to follow the aviation industry's standards and offer the same level of insurances cover.

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