Wed, Aug 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Deputy MOTC minister says Ko should stop talking trash

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai, left, yesterday speaks at a Taipei news conference about the Keelung light rail project.

Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) should stop his irrational accusations against the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ plans for a Keelung light rail project, and everyone involved in the project should resolve conflicts in a professional manner, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) yesterday told a news conference in Taipei.

Ministry officials on Friday met with Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) and Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) in Keelung to discuss the project, a meeting the ministry described as “harmonious” and a good beginning.

“However, this week Mayor Ko, on multiple occasions, continued to make unreasonable allegations about the project, even though the ministry and the city reached a consensus on several issues during his meeting with our minister [Hochen Tan (賀陳旦)] on July 31,” Wang said.

“I would ask Mayor Ko to discuss these issues in a professional manner so that we can build a light rail that fulfills the expectations of the public in Keelung and Taipei,” he added.

The government has proposed an NT$8.134 billion (US$269.33 million) budget for the project, which is part of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, and the budget would cover the construction of the ground level of the Nangang Exhibition Hall Station (NT$2.72 billion), purchase of 10 sets of tram-train carriages (NT$1.5 billion), establishment of a maintenance depot (NT$1.6 billion) and improvement of railway station facilities along the light rail route (NT$2.314 billion), Wang said.

A report on the feasibility of the light rail system is to be published by the end of this year, and the masterplan for the project is to be finalized by February 2019, he said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2019 and to be completed by October 2021, with the aim of launching operations by May 2022, Wang said.

A NT$20 million budget to finance the drafting the masterplan has been designated as part of the first phase of the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program, he said.

As for the Taipei City Government’s proposal to build an underground extension from Nangang Exhibition Hall Station to Nangang Station, the ministry has proposed building a light rail between Keelung and Nangang Exhibition Hall Stations because it would effectively divide passengers heading in different directions, Wang said.

“Our proposal is that the project would feature a tram-train system and mainly use Taiwan Railways Administration [TRA] tracks. When you are at the TRA Keelung Railway Station, you could either take a TRA train to go to Nangang Station or take the light rail to go to Nangang Exhibition Hall Station and transfer from there to other Taipei MRT lines,” he said.

Since Keelung has proposed building an extension line from Keelung Station to the west side of Keelung Port, the feasibility study would assess if the government should build the main line first or simultaneously build the main line and two extension lines, he said.

The study would also consider the possibility of building an underground extension line or one at the ground level to connect the Nangang Exhibition Hall Station and Nangang Station, Wang said, adding that a masterplan would not be drafted until all these decisions were finalized.

The Railway Reconstruction Bureau has estimated that the light rail project budget would be increased by NT$300 million to NT$500 million per kilometer if the extension line is built at the ground level, but only increased by NT$5 billion if it is built underground.

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