New railway system to boost growth in south Taiwan

New railway system to boost growth in south Taiwan

CONNECTED:The transit system would connect Tainan with Kaohsiung, making the municipalities the ‘twin engines’ that propel Taiwan’s development, the premier said

Premier William Lai yesterday marked the beginning of construction on Tainan’s advanced transit system, which is to connect Tainan to Kaohsiung, saying that the project would see southern Taiwan replace the north as the driver behind national development.

Part of the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, the system is to be constructed in stages, with the first stage being the construction of three lines — color-coded red, blue and green — at a cost of NT$75 billion (US$2.44 billion), Lai said at a ceremony in Tainan.

The transit system is to be built to international standards, Lai said, adding that he hoped the system would leverage Tainan’s development.

The three lines would pass through Tainan’s culturally rich Anping, West Central and North districts, as well as the the city’s most populated Yongkang and East districts, Lai said.

The system would eventually extend to the Tainan High Speed Rail Station and the planned Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City in Tainan’s Gueiren District, which have the highest development potential among the municipality’s administrative districts, he said.

The system would also connect Tainan with its neighboring municipality, Kaohsiung, making the two southern municipalities the “twin engines” that could propel the nation’s development, he said.

“For the past 60 years, northern Taiwan has led development. Over the next 60 years, that task belongs to southern Taiwan,” Lai said, expressing the hope that development in Tainan and Kaohsiung could be parlayed into the development of all of southern Taiwan.

The first stage of construction was planned when he was Tainan mayor, but now that he has been appointed premier, the task of planning stages two and three would fall to the next mayor, Lai said, as he called on people to support the Democratic Progressive Party’s mayoral candidate for Tainan, Legislator Huang Wei-che.

At the event, Lai also unveiled a project to extend Tainan’s underground railways northward to the municipality’s Yongkang, Shanhua and Sinshih districts, in response to repeated requests from city councilors.

The Cabinet has earmarked NT$40 billion to extend the railways, which would link the system to train stations operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration, greatly extending the reach of Tainan’s public transportation network, Lai said.

Earlier in the day, Lai marked the launch of the nation’s first X-ray cargo scanner at Kaohsiung Harbor, which he said would help immensely in cracking down on drug smuggling.

The nation would procure three more cargo scanners for Kaohsiung, Taichung and Keelung, he added.

However, as technology alone cannot comb through each item of luggage or search each traveler, he said customs workers should implement differentiated controls that target certain countries, regions, companies, types of cargo and individuals who are more likely to be connected with the smuggling of contraband.

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