Sun, May 02, 2010 - Page 2 News List

CEPD mulling MRT line to Danhai New Township

VOTE WINNER? Officials denied accusations that the medium-capacity light rail transit system project had been revived because of upcoming municipal elections

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) says it is considering the feasibility of extending the Danshui MRT line to Danhai New Township (淡海新市鎮) to help accelerate the community’s development.

A proposed elevated Danhai line, a medium-capacity light rail transit system (LRT), would run from Hongshulin Station on the existing Danshui line to Danhai New Township and allow the community’s residents to get to Taipei Main Station in one hour.

Following a meeting on Thursday to discuss the feasibility of the project that also included representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), CEPD Deputy Minister Hwang Wang-hsiang (黃萬翔) said the project would contribute to the new township’s development.

The new community has been planned to accommodate 300,000 residents, but to date only 453 hectares of the community’s 1,756 hectares have been developed, largely because of the lack of convenient transportation and peripheral services.

Hwang said the line would take six to seven years to build and could also be extended to Danshui Station. Provisions also exist for a spur line that would connect Danhai New Township and Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist destination at the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河).

The MOTC has estimated that the line from Hongshulin Station to Danhai New Township would cost NT$9.7 billion (US$310 million) to build. Adding a loop line to Danshui Station would cost an additional NT$2.1 billion, an MOTC official said.

According to a local media report, the project had been previously rejected by the MOTC over concerns that it was too expensive, but the idea is now being revived because of the upcoming municipal elections.

Officials from both the CEPD and MOTC, however, told the Central News Agency that the report was wrong on both counts.

The MOTC did ask for additions to an initial project plan, but it had not turned it down and the MOTC’s evaluation has followed a schedule unrelated to election activities, an MOTC official said.

Taipei County, which is to be upgraded to a special municipality called Sinbei City (新北市), will elect a new mayor later this year.

A CEPD official said the light-rail project would contribute to Danhai New Township’s development, but other supplementary measures would also be needed to boost services and entice more people to move to the community.

Hwang said the MOTC would include a neighborhood development plan as part of the project and would submit it to the CEPD for review.

If the project is approved by the CEPD, it will then be submitted to the Executive Yuan for approval, Hwang said.

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