Airport MRT possibly postponed: bureau

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - Page 3

The expiration of a bid for the extension of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT to Jhongli Train Station could cause construction to be postponed, Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Chu Shu (朱旭) said on Sunday.

The MRT line — with terminal stations at Taipei Main Station and the airport — was originally estimated to be 51.03km in length with a total of 22 stations in between, but after the Executive Yuan gave the green light to extend the line to Jhongli Train Station in 2010, the line would stretch 53.07km and have 24 stations in total. Total cost for the construction is tallied to be NT$13.8 billion (US$471 million).

Despite plans to have the extension line up and running by 2018, the bureau seems to be running into one obstacle after another with its construction plans.

Following the postponement of the use for the first stage of the MRT line from June next year to October next year, the bureau’s auction for contractors on the extension construction — posted in the middle of this month — has received no bidders.

The bureau said that it would be inviting bids again next month.

Commenting on the absence of bids, Chu said that the construction for the extension was a packaged construction bid, differing from the main line, where the construction and the electronics system had been separated into two different bids.

“As a package we understand that potential contractors would need more time to integrate the entire construction effort,” Chu said, adding that after the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) amendment went into went into effect in January, administrative processes would of necessity be dragged out due to observance of the “market value” of the land.

The amendment to the act stipulates that all land expropriation must be announced 30 days prior to the act being carried out, and all recompense must adhere to “market value,” which is to be decided by a governmental committee.

However, the bureau demands that electronics systems of the extension line be compatible with the main line and the lag of electronics systems on the main line has been a deterrent to contractors who might otherwise be interested, Chu said.

The extension line hopes to provide a more dynamic transportation system for both residents of Jhongli City and people across the nation, offering the possibility of taking existing Taiwan Railway Administration lines to Jhongli and then transferring to the airport, instead of having to make a duo-transition at Taipei Main Station.