The Railway Reconstruction Bureau yesterday said that construction on the Greater Taichung Railway Overpass is scheduled to be completed by 2015, with five new commuter stations to be added to the route.
The 21.7km overpass will begin 1.9km north of Fongyuan Station (豐原) and end 1.4km south of Dacing Station (大慶). The bureau said that Fongyuan, Tanzih (潭子), Taiyuan (太原), Taichung (台中) and Dacing stations will be elevated from the ground to the overpass. Songjhu and Dacing stations are also connected to the Greater Taichung MRT’s Green Line.
The five new stations to be built will be at Fongnan (豐南), Toujiacou (頭家厝), Songjhu (松竹), Jingwu (精武) and Wucyuan (五權).
The bureau said the overpass will eliminate 17 railway crossings, 18 underpasses and three bridges along the route on the ground, adding that the distance between the stations would be reduced by about 2km. The overpass will also enable the removal of partitions in the city center caused by the railway and the rebuilding of the city’s transportation network, the bureau said.
Greater Taichung is one of the few cities in the nation that is putting a railway route on an overpass — the majority of cities want to make the routes underground.
Hsu Wen-kuei (許文貴), the director of the bureau’s central regional engineering office, said Greater Taichung residents had had a vigorous debate on whether the railway should be placed on an overpass or repurposed as an underground route.
Hsu said the bureau held an exhibition to show citizens how the railway overpass would change the skyline of the city once it is completed.
Hsu added that the bureau had preserved several historical sites along the overpass, including Taichung Station, the granary of the Tanzih Township Farmers’ Association and Dacing Street.
It also helped relocate the 39 families living in stilted buildings on Minsheng Road that had to be torn down to make way for the overpass and produced a documentary to record the history of the community.
In related news, the Taiwan Railway Administration yesterday started selling tickets for trips along the east coast during the Lunar New Year holiday. More than 400,000 tickets were sold within an hour after sales began at 12 in the morning.
As of 4pm yesterday, 585,763 tickets had been sold, the administration said.
Despite the rail agency’s promise to increase the number of train services, many netizens complained that tickets sold out too quickly.
Despite tickets for the east coast routes only being made available yesterday, many passengers complained that people with southbound tickets on the west coast were able to get east coast line tickets as well because some of the trains operate all the way from the east coast to the west coast, such as those on the route from Hualien to Taichung via Taipei.
In response to the complaints, the administration said it would re-examine its ticket sales system.