The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) yesterday said it expected to resume full operations on the South Link Line (南迴鐵路) from tomorrow, adding it would spend NT$240 million (US$7.6 million) to build a new bridge over the Taimali River (太麻里溪) in Taitung County.
The nation’s largest railway service had to partially suspend operations on the main route connecting the southern and eastern regions after torrential rain brought by Typhoon Fanapi earlier this month caused water levels in the Taimali River to rise, washing away 100m of railway embankment.
At present, passengers heading to Kaohsiung from Hualien must get off at the TRA’s Taitung Station and take a connecting bus to Dawu (大武) in Taitung County, where they can board a train again to Kaohsiung.
TRA Director General Frank Fan (范植谷) said the original plan was to make the bridge over the river accessible by Saturday. The maintenance crew in Taitung, however, worked extra hours to repair the embankment, with the Taitung-Dawu section now expected to be accessible three days earlier, he said.
Meanwhile, the TRA plans to build a new bridge over the river, a project that is expected to be completed at the end of next year, Fan said.
“We must completely change the design of the bridge,” Fan said, adding that the South Link was located in mountainous areas, making it vulnerable to natural disasters.
To comply with Water Resources Agency plans to dredge the Taimali, Fan said the TRA would also increase the length of the bridge from 250m to 520m. Rather than a single railway track system, a double-track system would be installed on the bridge, he said.
The TRA said repair work on the South Link after it was damaged by Typhoon Morakot last year cost about NT$70 million. The damage caused by Fanapi is expected to exceed NT$48 million, it said.