The electrification of the railway line between Hualien and Taitung is scheduled to be completed by June next year, the Railway Reconstruction Bureau said yesterday.
The project was one of the programs launched by the government to stimulate the economy.
Previously, the construction was scheduled to start in 2008 and be completed in 2015.
However, in 2010 the government decided to complete the construction this year.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Frank Fan (范植谷) said the construction was delayed mainly due to typhoons this year.
“Even though the typhoons did not hit the East Coast directly, construction was nevertheless halted for a dozen days. Moreover, construction did not proceed smoothly because of the area’s geological conditions,” Fan said.
The bureau’s director-general Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said the completion of the project would be a significant indicator of the nation’s development.
However, he said the railway line must pass Ministry of Transportation and Communications safety inspections before starting operations.
Currently, travelers heading to Taitung must switch to diesel-powered trains at Hualien station because the railway line between Hualien and Taitung has yet to be electrified.
The capacity of the single-track line is limited, with the maximum operational speed reaching 110kph, Chou said.
The project will not only electrify the railway line, but it would also redesign four sections along the railway route.
Once the construction is completed, the train’s operational speed can be elevated to 130kph, with the estimated travel time being reduced by 35 minutes, the bureau said.
Travel time from Taipei to Taitung would be shortened by 50 minutes, it added.