The government intends to spend NT$4.181 billion (US$138.96 million) on building a branch line to connect the High Speed Rail station in Changhua County with the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) station in Tianjhong Township (田中), as well as on infrastructure upgrades along the Jiji branch line (集集支線) in Nantou County, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
Lin made the announcement during his tour of the TRA station in the township, where the high-speed rail station is also located.
The small town to the south of the county has become a popular tourist destination due to the Taiwan Rice Heaven-Tianzhong Marathon, where participants run while sampling various dishes presented by local residents along the way.
Photo: Chen Kuan-pei, Taipei Times
Construction on the 3km branch line is scheduled to begin next year, with the cost estimated to reach NT$1.181 billion, Lin said.
The branch line is to begin operations by 2026, he added.
The government would also spend NT$2.363 billion on upgrading the infrastructure along the TRA’s 29.75km Jiji branch line, Lin said.
The upgrade would help reduce waiting time between services on the line from 80 minutes to 60 minutes, Lin said.
The trains on the line would consist of six carriages instead of four, which would increase the number of passengers that they can carry one-way by 33 percent, he added.
The two projects, which would be funded by the budget allocated to the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, were previously rejected by the National Development Council for their low cost-to-benefit ratios, Lin said.
“I then asked the Railway Bureau to integrate these two projects, which helped secure the Executive Yuan’s approval,” he said.
Once the projects are completed, domestic and international visitors can seamlessly transit to Jiji and Tianjhong branch lines after they arrive at the high-speed rail station in Changhua, Lin said.
The government would try to integrate the branch lines with the cable car service at Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), making it the nation’s first tourism railway system, he said.
The ministry would propose an amendment to the Railway Act (鐵路法) and other relevant regulations, so that the ticketing scheme for the tourism railway service would be different from that of the regular train service, Lin said.
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