Tue, Dec 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

TRA expects NT$2.8bn in losses as staff costs rise

INTERCITY METRO:The Taiwan Railways Administration said it would overhaul its ticketing system and improve service on western lines to resemble mass transit systems

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) estimated loss for next year will top NT$2.8 billion (US$93.4 million), due to an increase in personnel expenditures and assets, the agency said yesterday, adding that the deficit would be NT$600 million less than this year.

The agency’s budget plan for next year was reviewed at the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday.

The increase in personnel expenditures is mainly due to the implementation of a new work-hour policy, the TRA said.

The railway operator has also increased the number of subsidies available for workers, they said, adding that all these factors have contributed to a rise in expenditures of about NT$900 million.

Meanwhile, the agency’s amortization cost rose by NT$300 million because of the assets that were turned over to it following the electrification of the railway line between Hualien and Taitung.

The TRA’s budget plan showed that it expects total service revenue to top NT$28.35 billion next year, mainly from train services and the lease of properties at the Taipei Railway Workshop in the city’s Xinyi District (信義).

The TRA is the backbone of the nation’s land transportation and should provide safe and reliable services, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said.

To meet the public’s expectations and sustain itself in a competitive market, the agency has been striving to provide a “smart” train system, Hochen said.

The government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program would help further connect the TRA with the high-speed rail system, he said, adding that the program would also improve the operation of the Jiji branch line to help develop tourism.

The railway operator would also explore business opportunities at some of its affiliated agencies, in addition to its main business of railway transportation, Hochen said.

The operator’s passenger volume is forecast to reach 11.49 billion passenger-kilometers next year, a 2.3 percent hike in ridership, TRA Director-General Jason Lu (鹿潔身) said.

To facilitate transfers between transportation systems, Lu said that the agency would push for further integration of different electric cards.

A new ticketing system would also be introduced to simplify the procedures to purchase tickets and support the flexible use of marketing strategies to draw passengers, he said.

Lu said that the agency will continue buying new trains and retiring old ones, adding that it would relocate its train depot in Kaohsiung to Pingtung County’s Chaozhou (潮州).

“We will continue to improve commuter train services along the west coast so that they can operate like an intercity metro system. As several new stations will also be launched next year, we will make minor adjustments to timetables, improve transfers between transportation systems and formulate plans to facilitate the transportation of passengers during holidays,” he said.

Lu also proposed different ways to improve marketing of the TRA system overseas to draw more international travelers, such as issuing tickets that allow travelers to take the trains of foreign operators that the agency partners with.

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