The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday gave a conditional pass to the environmental impact review for an electrification project for the railway line between Hualien and Taitung.
As the 155.5km railway line has yet to be electrified, express trains from Taipei to Taitung must change locomotives for diesel-powered trains in Hualien.
The environmental impact review committee required that the Railway Reconstruction Bureau ensure proper handling and relocation of earth removed as a result of the project. The committee also required the developer to ascertain the safe distance between tunnels and river beds.
The project was one of the alternatives proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) if the construction of the Suhua Freeway was halted.
Huang Joung-chieh (黃中杰), a project director at the Railway Reconstruction Bureau , said that the project did not face serious opposition from the committee.
However, Huang denied that the project had any connection to the construction of the Suhua Freeway.
"The project has been under review since 2004," he said. "The freeway and the railway are two separate matters."
Huang said the project would cost about NT$14 billion (US$424 million). Construction is expected to take seven years to complete.
Based on the bureau's study, the electrification project will boost the operating speed of the trains on the Hualien and Taitung line from 110kph to 130kph and reduce travel time to about one-and-a-half hours.
The Hualien-Taitung railway electrification project was also discussed at the legislature's Transportation Committee yesterday morning.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Justin Huang (
Huang said yesterday that the construction should start soon as the project had passed its environmental impact review.