The Railway Bureau yesterday said that it would spend NT$1.13 billion (US$38.12 million) to upgrade the 16 railway stations along the South Link Line by 2024.
The line would become fully electrified by the end of this year, Bureau Chief Engineer Wen Tai-hsin (溫代欣) said in a presentation at Taitung Railway Station.
As the number of passengers accessing the line is expected to increase in the near term, the bureau has decided to renovate the facilities in the stations along the line, Wen said.
The renovation project, which is to begin next year, would ensure that each station features the distinct characteristics and cultures of the locality, he said.
The bureau would also begin researching the feasibility of two other projects, Wen said.
One is to study the possibility of enhancing operation speeds on the railway line connecting Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties; and the other is to study whether the South Link Line can be upgraded to a dual-track system and whether an express railway service can be launched on the line, he said.
The bureau would retain consulting firms to evaluate the feasibility of the projects, Wen said, adding that the evaluations would cost NT$22 million and NT$27.9 million respectively.
The consulting firms would be asked to deliver reports in 12 months and 18 months respectively, he added.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has made building a “national express railway network” its guiding policy for the construction of railway systems, which would allow people to travel around the nation within six hours, the ministry said.
People can travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung in 90 minutes using the high-speed rail system.
As the ministry is planning to extend the high-speed rail line to Yilan and Pingtung counties, the travel time from Taipei to Hualien, as well as from Kaohsiung to Taitung, would each be reduced to 90 minutes with the combined use of the high-speed rail and Taiwan Railways Administration systems, it said.
The travel time from Hualien to Taitung would be reduced to 70 minutes with the introduction of an express railway service, it added.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that transportation would provide the basis for the development of the tourism industry.
Visitors could travel around Taiwan freely if the government made it possible for them to circle the island in six hours in either direction, he said.
The renovation of the railway stations along the South Link Line would not only benefit the residents of Taitung, but also domestic and international tourists, he said.
The renovations would involve the Dawu (大武), Longsi (瀧溪), Jinlun (金崙), Duoliang (多良), Taimali (太麻里), Jhihben (知本) and Kangle (康樂) stations in Taitung County, and the Kanding (崁頂), Nanchou (南州), Jhenan (鎮安), Linbian (林邊), Chiadong (佳冬), Donghai (東海), Chialu (加祿), Neishih (內獅) and Fangshan (枋山) stations in Pingtung County.
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