Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 2 News List

THSRC gets MOTC approval for Taipei to Banciao section

By Shelley Shan and Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) approved the operation of the high speed rail on the section between Taipei and Banciao (板橋) yesterday.

Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Pang Chia-hua (龐家驊) said the approval merely meets one of the preconditions for the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to secure an operating permit, adding that the company has yet to comply with all the requirements of the Railway Law (鐵路法) and its build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract.

For example, the THSRC has not yet submitted the NT$5 billion (US$156 million) deposit required, Pang said.

Should the company meet all the outstanding requirements, the operational permit could be issued as soon as today, he said.

Pang added that the THSRC will face a stern challenge today, when advance tickets for the Lunar New Year holidays go on sale.

Ticket sales will begin at 6am today and the bureau expects some would-be travelers to queue-up at the high speed rail stations.

Although the THSRC will soon be permitted to operate between Banciao and Taipei, several media reports have speculated that the high speed rail may not do so in time for the Lunar New Year holidays since the company has encountered difficulties with its ticketing system and train schedules. Those in Taipei choosing to take the high speed rail during this time will probably still be required to board from the high speed rail station in Banciao.

Pang said the company and the bureau had reached a consensus that the high speed rail would operate between Banciao and Tsoying (左營) during the Lunar New Year holidays.

He urged the company to come up with a comprehensive plan that took all possible scenarios into account.

"The bottom line is that the company has to finalize its plan and announce it to the public as soon as possible," he said, "[The THSRC] must stop making plans only to change them the next day."

Pang also suggested possible solutions to the problem. For example, he said, if the THSRC was only able to sell tickets from Banciao to Tsoying (左營), the company could alter the setting on the ticket-checking gates at Taipei Main Station to allow those purchasing tickets from Banciao to pass.

THSRC spokesman Arthur Chiang (江金山) confirmed in a phone interview yesterday that the THSRC had decided not to operate on the Taipei to Banciao section during the Lunar New Year holidays. He said that passengers would need to wait at least until next month before they could take the bullet train from Taipei.

It will take some time for the THSRC to reorganize its train schedule before applying for a license, he added.

The THSRC's decision not to operate between Taipei and Banciao during the Lunar New Year holidays was also prompted by technical concerns, he said.

The ticketing system and gates in THSRC stations have been found to malfunction frequently, especially during peak hours, Chiang said.

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