An underground railway line officially opened in Kaohsiung yesterday following almost 10 years of construction, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Railway Bureau said.
The line would eliminate all ground-level railway tracks in downtown Kaohsiung, as well as seven railway crossings and 16 flying junctions, it added.
The opening of the line and the new Kaohsiung Railway Station was marked at a ceremony attended by Premier William, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo and Railway Bureau Director-General Allen Hu).
Lai thanked the construction team for their hard work over the years, as well as Kaohsiung residents who put up with the construction for the past decade.
The central government and the Kaohsiung City Government should continue working together to finish the project’s second phase, which includes building a “green corridor” using the land previously occupied by railroad tracks and commercial buildings at the Kaohsiung and Fengshan railway stations, Chen said.
Eliminating railway crossings and junctions would improve the traffic in downtown Kaohsiung and reduce traffic accidents caused by trains, Wu said.
The project also helps to connect areas previously divided by railway tracks, balance the development of different districts in the city, raise land values and improve city residents’ quality of life, he said.
Hu pointed to the difficulties faced while building the underground railway line, which passes under the Love River.
The most challenging part of construction was the new Kaohsiung Railway Station, which would be used by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) as well as the Kaohsiung MRT system, he said.
The two systems had to continue operating during the construction of the new line, which proved to be challenging, Hu said.
The underground line between Zuoying and Fongshan is 15.37km long, the bureau said.
It connects 10 railway stations, including Zuoying, Kaohiung, Fongshan and seven new railway stations built for commuters, it added.
The TRA originally planned to launch the new line at 6am, but the first southbound train did not depart from Zuoying until 6:18am and the first northbound train did not leave the terminal station until 6:45am.
One of the railway signals along the northbound line between the Museum of Arts Station and Zuoying malfunctioned at 6:46am, affecting four trains and about 1,890 passengers, the TRA said, adding that the signal was repaired at 7:40am.
In related news, the TRA is on Thursday to release its railway calendar for next year, featuring scenes captured along the railway line between Hualien and Taitung.
The railway agency said that it would only print 1,000 calendars, adding that people can buy them in Taipei Railway Station, as well as Songshan, Nangang, Taichung, Hualien and Kaohsiung stations.