Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Minister noncommittal on Pingtung THSR link

DEMAND IS THERE:Eight million passengers traveled between Pingtung and Sintsoying stations in the first six months of this year, the Pingtung County leader said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) yesterday was noncommittal when asked whether the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) line would be extended from Kaohsiung to Pingtung County.

Reporters raised the question after Wu presided over a ceremony marking the launch of an improved train service between the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Sintsoying Train Station (新左營) in Kaohsiung and the Pingtung Train Station.

Asked if the Ministry of Transportation and Communitations (MOTC) would approve the Pingtung County Government’s proposal to extend the high-speed rail system into the county, Wu said that a review committee tasked with evaluating the feasibility of the idea is expected to present its findings by the end of this month.

“Pingtung is famous for its tourist attractions. The ministry and the county government would inform committee members about the needs of Pingtung residents regarding transferring between transport systems. However, the ministry would respect the professionals’ assessment,” Wu said.

Eight million passengers traveled between the Pingtung and Sintsoying stations from January to June, Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said, adding that there is high demand for train services along the route.

Meanwhile, to make switching between the THSR and TRA trains in Kaohsiung more convenient and comfortable, an underground railway route between Sintsoying and Pingtung stations would open on Oct. 14, the TRA said.

It is improving service between the two stations in two stages.

In the first stage, it is spending about NT$205 million (US$6.67 million) to remodel the interiors of 60 EMU500 commuter train cabins, a three-year project that began last year, the TRA said.

Bench-style seats are being replaced with airplane-style seats, cabins’ ceilings are being remodeled, multifunctional toilets are being installed and the exteriors of the cabins are being painted, it said.

The second stage entails gradually increasing the frequency of trips, the TRA said.

Starting today, the remodeled trains would make three round-trips between the two stations, and the number of round-trips would be increased to 12 — eight express commuter services and four regular commuter services — when the underground rail link opens, it said.

The interval between commuter services during peak hours would be shortened from 12 minutes to an average of 10 minutes, while the interval during off-peak hours would be shortened from 20 minutes to about 15 minutes, it said.

The time needed for passengers to transfer betwen the high-speed rail system and the TRA at Sintsoying should be 15 minutes during peak hours and 25 minutes during off-peak hours, the TRA said.

As the new underground route would have seven stations, travel time for commuter trains would be increased from between 32 minutes and 40 minutes to between 50 minutes and 56 minutes, it said.

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