The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday finalized route for a Taiwan High Speed Rail line to Yilan County, which avoids the Feitsui Water Reservoir’s (翡翠水庫) watershed, a source within the ministry said.
The ministry originally had three proposals for the Taipei-Yilan section of the railway, two of which were shorter, but crossed the watershed, while the ministry-proposed route, although longer, completely avoids it.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved the ministry’s decision yesterday after being briefed on the issue at a meeting and is expected to announce the plan in Yilan in the coming days.
Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times
While the chosen route is the most expensive option, transport time would be slower by only 30 seconds to 1 minute, the source said.
It ultimately decided that ensuring a clean water supply for the residents of the greater Taipei area superseded any other consideration, the source added.
The high-speed rail line would increase transport capacity between Taipei and Yilan, and decrease the number of people who would otherwise drive or use the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) services, the source said.
It would provide travelers with an additional travel option to eastern Taiwan, while addressing a lack of sufficient transport capacity between New Taipei City’s Shulin District (樹林) and Keelung City’s Qidu District (七堵), the source added.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported that New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) suggested at yesterday’s meeting that the planned line cross near Taiwan’s northeastern coast.
Hou suggested that the ministry consider the option of the new line sharing the TRA’s Pingsi Station (平溪), as this would benefit local development.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that the plans would undergo some adjustments as a result of yesterday’s decision, adding that the planned Minsheng-Xizhi mass rapid transit line, which has passed its environmental impact assessment, would also need adjustments to its planned route, the newspaper said.
Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tzu-miao (林姿妙) said that the ministry’s decision to circumvent the reservoir’s watershed is to be applauded, as it would minimize the environmental impact.
Lin Tzu-miao said that she hopes the project would be expedited to address Yilan’s relative isolation due to its location.
Yilan Mayor Chiang Tsung-yuan (江聰淵) said that the ministry’s decision faces a significant obstacle — the environmental impact assessment — and the route’s extra length could lead to delays in the project.
Citing as an example the 12.9km Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道), which took many years to construct, Chiang said that he hopes the selected route, which would require 11.4km of tunneling and path construction, would not take more than 10 years to build.
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