The high-speed rail system is to be extended from Kaohsiung to Pingtung County, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
Su made the announcement while inspecting the county’s transportation infrastructure.
Four routes have been proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, he said.
The Zuoying route, which would cost NT$55.4 billion (US$1.77 billion), would start at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Station and pass through Niaosong (鳥松) and Dashu (大樹) districts, before crossing the Kaoping River (高屏溪) and ending in Pingtung County’s Lioukuaicuo (六塊厝), ministry data showed.
At a cost of NT$56.1 billion, the Yanchao route would connect Kaohsiung’s Yanchao District (燕巢) and Lioukuaicuo.
The NT$121.7 billion Kaohsiung route would go from Kaohsiung Railway Station to Lioukuaicuo.
The Siaogang-Chaojhou route at NT$150 billion would run from Zuoying to Pingtung County’s Chaojhou Township (潮州), passing by Kaohsiung International Airport.
Su said the Zuoying route seems to be the most viable, considering the estimated time frame, but the Executive Yuan would respect the ministry’s assessment.
The authorities would seek to expropriate as few buildings as possible for the project, he added.
The plan would benefit the nation’s long-term development and global competitiveness, Su said, pre-empting accusations that the announcement was politically motivated with elections nearing.
Such accusations would “underestimate him, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taiwanese,” he said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used to encourage people to boycott the High-Speed Rail, but today, it has become a major transportation system with 182,000 riders per day, he said.
The ultimate goal is a “round-island rail system” that connects the High-Speed Rail with new Taiwan Railways Administration lines planned in eastern Taiwan, Su said, adding that it would create more opportunities by making commuting and logistics more efficient.
He pledged to assist the Kaohsiung City Government in extending the city metro system’s red line to Linyuan District (林園) and further to Pingtung County’s Donggang Township (東港).
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