The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) yesterday said that high-speed rail ticket prices would remain unchanged for now, despite getting approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to raise the basic rate.
Based on the build-operate-transfer contract between the government and the THSRC, the company is allowed to adjust ticket prices if the accumulated change in the consumer price index exceeds 3 percent.
The ministry said that the accumulated change in the index from 2011 to last year was 3.47 percent, exceeding the standard stated in the contract. The company was given permission to raise the rate from NT$3.875 per passenger-kilometer to NT$4.009 per passenger-kilometer.
In response, the company said that it would take into account the newly approved rate, the system’s operational costs, passenger demand and the socio-economic situation when assessing whether it should raise fares.
If it decides to increase ticket prices, the company said that it would need to take the matter to its board of directors for further discussion before it could implement the change.
Until then, the company said that ticket prices would remain unchanged. It has not set a specific timeline of when it will finish its fare assessment or when a proposal to adjust the train fare, if any, will be handed to its board of directors for approval.
According to the ministry, the company cannot set ticket prices using a basic rate of more than 1.2 times the ministry’s approved basic rate. The approved basic rate in 2007 was NT$3.655 per passenger-kilometer. As a result, the company set prices using a basic rate of NT$4.386 per passenger-kilometer.
The ministry approved in 2009 that the basic rate be raised from NT$3.655 per passenger-kilometer to NT$3.875 per passenger-kilometer. However, the high-speed rail operator did not raise ticket prices accordingly.
Since 2009, the annual increase of the basic rate has been about 9.4 percent. Whether high-speed rail ticket prices would rise is to be determined by the THSRC, the ministry said.
If the company decides to raise fares and set the highest price allowed, a one-way high-speed rail ticket price between Taipei and Kaohsiung would increase from NT$1,490 to NT$1,630.