Forward-looking infrastructure to integrate conventional rail, high-speed rail, metro systems

  • Date: 2017-07-01
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan

Premier Lin Chuan today said that the railway development component of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program will connect the conventional railway, high-speed rail, and various metro systems to achieve a functional synergy effect among the three railway systems.

Speaking in Taichung where he inspected a double-track construction project between the Chenggong and Zhuifen stations of the Taiwan Railway Administration, the premier said the forward-looking railway projects are significant because they can see the forest through the trees, taking a farsighted and high-level view of railway development needs for the entire nation rather than for individual locales. For instance, tourism trains and urban-rural development projects (including the construction of a double-track system in eastern Taiwan and the electrification of the South Link Line) are designed to improve railway quality and combine all systems into an effectively integrated network.

Citing the example of Taipei Metro’s Muzha Line (now part of the Wenhu Line), the premier said ridership on the line was initially lower than expected, but gradually picked up as the metro system expanded to include the Bannan, Tamsui and Xindian lines. He hopes this network integration effect can be applied to the nation’s three railway systems and boost the benefits of each system threefold.

The Chenggong-Zhuifen project also has the same objective. Laying two-way tracks for this stretch will improve train efficiency while providing access to high-speed rail services for residents along the Coast Line. The government plans to use Greater Taichung’s Shanshou Line as the base for integrating all three modes of rail transport and expanding rapid transit services to more communities.

The purpose of augmenting these rail systems is not to make profit but to reduce pollution, congestion and traffic accidents while increasing service punctuality and convenience, the premier emphasized. Building railway systems does not always result in financial loss either, as the Taipei Metro has proven with positive earnings from station services and equipment, thanks to the network integration effect. The premier hopes that the Chenggong-Zhuifen project will benefit the high-speed rail and other train stations in Greater Taichung to put regional development on a firmer footing. These are the objectives for the forward-looking infrastructure program as well.

The premier also commended Taichung City Mayor Lin Chia-lung for overcoming a myriad of obstacles to promote the Taichung metro system’s Blue Line, now included in the forward-looking program.

The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program bill, which will provide the legal basis for funding the projects, is set to be reviewed by the Legislature next week. A special budget is being used to make the fiscal planning process more efficient, but if the bill passes and certain budget items are still deemed unsatisfactory, the Legislature will naturally make adjustments. Critics who do not understand this special budget process assume that the eight-year, NT$880 billion (US$28.9 billion) figure is set in stone, but this is not true, the premier said. He hopes to improve communications with the public and explain the issues that people care about.

All of the projects in the forward-looking infrastructure program have been carefully assessed, and only those deemed necessary and beneficial have been included in the Executive Yuan’s special budget and submitted to the Legislature for deliberation. The Executive Yuan is ready for a rigorous review and open to discussing any projects that might be controversial. The premier called on all sectors to work together and push the country’s infrastructure forward into the future.