The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is today to hold its first meeting about the four possible routes for the high-speed rail (HSR) line to Pingtung County, it said yesterday, adding that it would respect whatever decision the experts reach.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Sept. 10 announced that the government plans to extend the high-speed line to Pingtung.
Even through Su did not specifically say which one of the four proposed routes he preferred, he said the route must be chosen “taking into account the challenges that the construction crew would face and the number of buildings or houses that would need to be demolished.”
Su’s statement was widely interpreted to mean that the Executive Yuan preferred an extension route between Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營) and Lioukuaicuo Railway Station (六塊厝) in Pingtung.
The estimated travel time for the 18km route would be 20 minutes, while the construction cost would be about NT$55.4 billion (US$1.78 billion) — the cheapest of the four possible routes.
However, a Railway Bureau assessment showed that the government would need to demolish 50 buildings and adjust the railway line at Zuoying Station to build the route.
Before construction begins, the government would also have to conduct a hydraulic analysis of Houjin River (後勁溪) and reconsider the functions of Zuoying Station.
One of the other three routes would be from Kaohsiung’s Yanchao District (燕巢) — where the high-speed rail system’s depot is — to Lioukuaicuo.
It would be about 13.2km long with a travel time of about 8 minutes, but the construction cost would increase to NT$56.1 billion, and 137 buildings and houses would have to be removed, the bureau said.
This route would require changes to the high-speed rail’s signaling system, the bureau said, adding that building the route would also affect high-speed rail operations for five months.
Another route would be from Zuoying to Lioukuaicuo via Kaohsiung Railway Station.
The travel time for the 24.9km route would be 22 minutes and the construction cost would jump to NT$121.7 billion, the bureau said, adding that 28 buildings to the west of Kaohsiung Railway Station and 41 houses would have to be removed.
If this route were chosen, the Kaohsiung underground railway project would have to change to accommodate it, but it could potentially boost the development of Kaohsiung’s downtown area, the bureau said.
The final route would be from Zuoying to Pingtung’s Chaojhou Township (潮州) via Kaohsiung International Airport. The route would be 36km long, with a travel time of 25 minutes.
It is estimated to cost more than NT$150 billion, as it would involve the relocation of water and gas pipelines, as well as a Kaohsiung MRT line, the bureau said.
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