The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government made a political decision when it decided to extend the Taiwan High Speed Rail line from Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營) to Pingtung City, an alliance advocating extending the high-speed rail system to Pingtung County said yesterday.
The decision would hinder the development of Pingtung County and live the county’s residents bearing the dire consequences.
The alliance also issued a statement on Monday night after learning that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) was to announce the government’s decision yesterday.
Alliance members heard the government might support the proposal to extend the rail line from Zuoying to the Taiwan Railways Administration’s Lioukuaicuo Rail Station in Pingtung City as this was the cheapest of the three rail-extension proposals and would mean fewer relocations of homes, it said.
The government simply decided to extend the high-speed line because it said it would do so, and it lied to the public when it said the Lioukuaicuo station area had more land on which to build a High-Speed Rail station, the alliance said.
County residents know that central Pingtung County has more space to build compared with its northern region, and if the government is determined to extend the rail line to Pingtung City, it should consider the problems that would be generated by the flow of traffic and people, it said.
“We want to ask if a High-Speed Rail station in Lioukuaicuo would have enough parking and would enable the area to become an industrial park in the city. What the government is doing now is like an idiot talking about his dream,” the alliance said.
Central Pingtung has more potential for growth, because it has huge properties once owned by Taiwan Sugar Corp, it said, adding that the government might insist on building a High-Speed Rail station in Lioukuaicuo because it wants to inflate the property values there.
The government completely ignores the importance of a joint development plan between Kaohsiung and Pingtung County by proposing extension line be built to Lioukuaicuo, which would make it difficult to have an integrated transportation system between these administrative areas, the alliance said.
Several Kaohsiung city councilors have supported building the extension line near the Kaohsiung International Airport or downtown Kaohsiung, which would be a more sensible development plan, the alliance said.
If a High-Speed Rail station is to be built in Lioukuaicuo, it would only serve as a branch line station, not the terminus of the high-speed rail system, which would mean that trains would run from the station on an hourly basis, not more frequently, the alliance said.
The county’s future would be destroyed with such an inefficient facility, and the next generation would be burdened with construction debts, it added.
Railway Bureau Deputy Director General Yang Cheng-chun (楊正君) said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is scheduled to convene a review committee on the extension at the end of this month, which would be attended by transportation experts and government officials.
The bureau has completed the assessments of an extension line from Kaohsiung’s Yanchao District (燕巢) or Zuoying, Yang said.
However, if the committee decides the route should go from Yanchao via the Kaohsiung Railway Station to Pingtung City or from Yanchao via Kaohsiung International Airport to Chaojhou Township (潮州), the bureau would need another six months to gather the relevant data, he added.
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