The Railway Bureau yesterday announced new guidelines for light rail line construction in a bid to increase the use of domestic rail services and products nationwide.
The guidelines were needed because the government had failed to integrate railway service procurement projects, so each local government could set its own specifications, which meant that the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or light rail systems in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung were all different, Bureau Deputy Director-General Yang Cheng-chun said.
The new guidelines were approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Sept. 3, he said.
Given that there are so many railway projects in the Executive Yuan’s Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program, the bureau wanted to use this opportunity to promote the use of domestically produced rail systems and services, Yang said.
It believed it was more likely to succeed if it began by changing the way the light rail projects are put out for public tender, he said.
The guidelines have two main parts, including complementary measures related to the enforcement of procurement projects and the standardization of manufacturing railway products, Yang said.
“Taiwan’s market for the railway service is already small, and it would be smaller still if different localities use different systems,” he said.
The guidelines were designed to help local government officials by using the same standards, which mean a bigger market for railway system manufacturers could be created, Yang said.
Under the new guidelines, local governments would be asked to take the most advantageous bid, rather than the lowest one, he said.
Officials should look at contractors’ experience and performances as criteria for evaluations, but not as qualifications for a bid, he said.
The guidelines allow for two or more contractors to collaborate on a bid, he added.
Under the guidelines, while central government agencies and the Taipei and Kaohsiung city governments are obligated to follow the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), other localities not bound by the GPA would be permitted to state in the bidding documents that at least 50 percent of the electrical and mechanical systems in a railway service should be made by domestic manufacturers.
Local governments would also be able to ask bidders to propose measures to facilitate the use of domestic services and products, such as reducing maintenance costs, Yang said.
Taiwan is capable of building a railway’s civil engineering system entirely on its own, but must still import the core technology for electrical and mechanical systems, the bureau said.
“Through standardized production, not only will the nation be able to meet the various demands of train operations, but it will be able to integrate various technical capabilities in its railway service industry and enable manufacturers to make products with general specifications. This would also make them important suppliers in the international railway service chain,” Yang said.
Current projects include phase two of the Danhai and Ankeng light rail projects, Yang said.
Both are in New Taipei City.
The feasibility assessment reports of the Taoyuan MRT Brown Line Project and a light rail connecting Keelung and Taipei have been approved, while the bureau is studying the possibilities of building light rail lines in Hsinchu and Tainan, he said.
Building all six projects would cost NT$15.2 billion (US$489.77 million), with about NT$80 billion for civil engineering, which could be entirely handled by local firms.
The remaining NT$70.2 billion would cover the electrical and mechanical engineering systems.
“Through the guidelines, we hope at least 50 percent of a railway’s electrical and mechanical systems can be built by domestic contractors,” Yang said.
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