Northward extension of route would reduce traffic to east coast
TAIPEI – Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) raised a proposal to extend Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) northward to Yilan County last month, in addition to the existing proposal for a direct train route via a Taipei-Yilan Line, UDN reports.
Currently, the West Coast Line runs through Keelung and then connects to the Yilan Line, hence a direct line between Taipei and Yilan could substantially cut down the traffic time. However, the Taipei-Yilan Line project has been stuck for over three years due to environmental concerns regarding the catchment area of Feitsui Reservoir, according to the Railway Bureau.
In order to satisfy the demand for a more rapid means to reach eastern Taiwan, a northward extension of THSR could be an alternative. The expansion could avoid the catchment area in question while compensating for the detour with its higher speed.
However, the Railway Bureau says that there has not been any evaluation made on a THSR northward extension and that it would require collecting opinions from local governments and ascertaining the environmental impact. The bureau also points out that the cost of THSR railway could be higher, therefore both the Taipei-Yilan Line and THSR northward extension have their pros and cons.
MOTC expects to conduct a preliminary analysis by July and complete an evaluation within six months. However, THSR Corporation says that its BOT (build-operate-transfer) contract with the government only covers the area between Taipei’s Nangang Station and Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung and that it currently has no plan to operate lines beyond the contract.