Sun, May 27, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Local drivers pass high speed rail exams

GETTING READY As the high speed train service gets ready to offer more departures, local and foreign drivers are receiving the appropriate training to deal with any situation

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first group of locally trained Taiwanese high speed train drivers will soon join the high speed rail service, the Bureau of the High Speed Rail said on Friday.

A statement issued by the bureau said that all the local drivers had passed a written test held three weeks ago and completed driving tests on May 6 and last Wednesday, where their ability to operate the train under normal and emergency situations was evaluated.

In the statement, the bureau said it was now assessing the drivers' performances in the driving tests.

The results will be handed over to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for final approval.

Meanwhile, another foreign driver could also receive certification by the end of this month, the operator said.

This would bring the total of foreign drivers recruited by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) to 52.

Bureau director general Hu Hsiang-ling (胡湘麟) confirmed that the driver is from France.

A majority of foreign drivers recruited by the company are French, Hu said.

Hu also said earlier last week that the newly certified drivers would help cope with the potential passenger increase when the THSRC increases its one-way train runs from 25 to 31.

This planned increase has also forced the company to readjust its schedules, which have been approved by the MOTC.

Under the new schedule, the first trains will depart from Taipei and Tsoying (左營) simultaneously at 7am.

The last train will depart at 9:06pm.

Starting next month, three trains will operate during the rush hour.

The non-stop express trains from Taipei to Tsoying will only take approximately 96 minutes to complete the journey, whereas trains that are making stops at every station will take approximately 102 minutes to reach their destination.

In accordance with the contract signed with the bureau, THSRC must increase the frequency of trains to 61 in each direction by the end of September.

In related news, the passenger who purchases the 5 millionth THSRC ticket will be awarded 10 business-class tickets, a THSRC spokesman said yesterday.

The winner will be able to use the tickets at any time within one year and will also receive four models of the high speed train, the spokesman said.

The 5 millionth passenger is expected to buy a ticket today or tomorrow, as the number of THSRC passengers had reached 4.82 million last Wednesday and was growing by an average of 35,000 passengers per day, he said.

Purchasers of the 4,999,999th ticket and 5,000,001th ticket will each win two business-class tickets and a model of the train, the spokesman said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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