The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is scheduled to start work on the electrification of the railway line between Hualien and Taitung next month.
The electrification of the Hualien-Taitung railway service was one of the 12 “I-Taiwan” projects (愛台十二項建設) promised by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his presidential electoral campaign.
The work is scheduled to be completed by 2013.
Chou Yung-hui (周永暉), deputy director general of the Railway Reconstruction Bureau, said yesterday that it takes about two hours and 40 minutes to go from Hualien to Taitung. Once the electrification work is complete, travel time will be reduced by about 30 minutes.
“In the future, passengers will be able to go straight from Taipei to Taitung without having to change trains in Hualien,” Chou said. “The travel time can potentially be shortened to four hours. The operational speed will be increased from 110kph to 130kph.”
Currently, passengers going from Taipei to Taitung need to switch to diesel-powered trains in Hualien, with the exception of those travelling by diesel-powered Tzuchiang express trains.
The Hualien-Taitung route uses a single-track system and Chou said the project would also involve the installation of a double-track system on some sections, including those inside tunnels and on bridges.
The project covers a 155km stretch of railway. When it is finished, about 42km of this will be double-tracked.
Chou said the bureau had submitted a plan to make the entire route double-track, which had yet to be approved by the Executive Yuan.
The bureau originally planned to spend seven years on the project, but it would now try to accomplish the task within four years.
The cost is estimated to top NT$15.5 billion (US$480,000) and the bureau has also budgeted an additional NT$6 billion to renovate stations on the route.