The Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday last week held a groundbreaking ceremony in Kaohsiung for a national railway technology research and certification center with a planned budget of NT$4.2 billion (US$137.65 million).
The center, which the ministry has said would serve as a “technology aide” for the development of the rail industry, is expected to begin operations in 2023 at the earliest, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
The center is “the last piece of the puzzle” in efforts to advance the industry, Lin said.
Since he assumed office in January, Lin has been working toward self-sufficiency and localization with regards to the manufacturing and development of rail-related products and technologies.
Describing Taiwan as “a country of railways,” Lin said that it has had railway transportation for 100 years, which has deeply influenced the lives of Taiwanese.
More than 3 million people commute via rail every day in Taiwan, including at least 2.3 million who use the Mass Rapid Transit systems in Taipei, New Taipei City and Kaohsiung, he said.
The number of rail passengers is expected to double in 10 years to 6 million people per day, with the potential to expand to 10 million per day, Lin said.
In Taiwan, a small island with a high population density, “rail transport definitely plays a crucial role,” the minister said, adding that the government plans to spend NT$2 trillion on railway construction in the next decade.
To achieve this goal, the nation must develop its rail industry rather than relying on foreign technology and products, Lin said.
The center would research rail transportation system technologies and introduce independent testing and certification techniques, which would hopefully improve industrial research and development capabilities in the sector, he said.
The center would be built on a 10-hectare plot next to the high-speed rail depot in Kaohsiung’s Yanchao District (燕巢), with the first stage of construction expected to be completed by the end of next year, the Railway Bureau said.
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