The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday that the Taoyuan County Government must follow due procedures and conduct feasibility research if it decides to build a railway track underground rather than on an overpass.
The TRA issued an official statement after Taoyuan County commissioner-elect Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said he was adamant about fulfilling his campaign promises by removing railway crossings and having railway tracks built underground instead, even though the construction of a railway overpass has already been approved by the Executive Yuan.
Cheng said that building railway tracks underground would only cost double the amount spent on building a railway overpass and take only two more years than originally planned to complete construction, adding that he would forward the proposal to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications as it is the wish of the majority of the county’s residents.
In response, the TRA said that it is unaware of the basis of Cheng’s report regarding the cost and construction time of an underground railway project, adding that nobody within the administration had made such statements in the past.
“The administration has been following the plan that was approved in 2009 by the Executive Yuan to construct the railway overpass. At that time, the Taoyuan County Government also promised its involvement in this project. If the government now wants to build the railway tracks underground instead, it should follow guidelines governing railway construction and peripheral land development, and entrust a consulting firm with the task of evaluating the project’s feasibility,” the administration said.
The TRA also defended the legitimacy of building the railway overpass, saying that the county government had twice agreed to share the construction cost of the railway overpass by budgeting approximately NT$10.18 billion (US$326.27 million) for the project.
It said that the delay in beginning the project was because the county government has encountered difficulty in procuring the land, forcing it to change the planned route.
Taoyuan is scheduled to become the nation’s sixth special municipality on Dec. 25 and Cheng has already named some projects that he plans to launch during his term.
Apart from having the railway tracks built underground, Cheng said on Sunday that he plans to propose the extension of the Taipei Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) Zhonghe-Xinlu Line to Taoyuan City via the county’s Kueishan Township (龜山).
He said that he would also petition to have Taipei MRT Sanying Line, which is under construction, extended to Bade Township (八德) and Jhungli Township (中壢).
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said that the county would have to undertake all lawful procedures again if it wants to build the railway underground, including the construction’s feasibility research and environmental impact.
Yeh said that the entire process would be likely to take at least another three to four years to complete.
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