The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on Monday officially established the Railway Bureau, authorizing it to supervise the construction and oversight of railways nationwide, as well as generate opportunities to export the nation’s railway expertise and technology to other nations.
The new agency was formed by merging the ministry’s Railway Reconstruction Bureau with its Bureau of High Speed Rail.
The Railway Bureau is based in New Taipei City — in the same building as Banciao Railway Station — and opened for business after a ceremony unveiled a plaque bearing the new agency’s name to the public.
The Railway Reconstruction Bureau operated for 40 years, and the Bureau of High Speed Rail for 20, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said, adding that the Railway Bureau could draw on resources from both agencies in fulfilling its role.
“It is not only a construction agency, but an enforcer of the laws regulating railway operations,” he said. “It oversees railway operations nationwide and develops the railway industry in cooperation with other government agencies. It not only ensures that the railway service is available to the public, but that railway technology is updated, as well as shared with other nations.”
The bureau must not only recruit government employees, but also retain independent experts to review railway projects, investigate major accidents, research and develop technology and certify the safety of railway systems, Hochen said.
The MOTC and the Ministry of Economic Affairs have produced a list of railway system components that the nation should produce locally, such as the pantographs mounted on the roofs of electric trains, railroad switches and railway signaling systems, he said.
“We have asked the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and universities to develop these products,” Hochen said. “Combining product development with research would lower development costs and make mass production possible. By producing these components locally, system maintenance costs would be lowered.”
“We could even export these components to other nations,” Hochen added.
Scheduled to begin operations in 2021, a railway technical research and certification institute is one of the organizations that would be overseen by the Railway Bureau.
The institute would be charged with increasing the proportion of locally made railway components used by the Taiwan Railways Administration and light-rail systems from 42 percent to 70 percent within 10 years.
About 15 percent of the components used in the high-speed rail and MRT systems are made locally, the MOTC said, adding that it hopes the Railway Bureau can increase this figure by 3 percent annually.
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