KAWASAKI Heavy Industries was the sole bidder last month to supply electrical and mechanical equipment for the planned metro link between Taipei city centre and Chiang Kai-shek International Airport. The tender was opened on September 7 by the state-owned Bureau of High Speed Rail.

Legislation requires at least three qualified bids, failing which tenders must be recalled. If at that stage a second bid complies with the official cost estimates, it may be accepted. Although Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens expressed interest in the NT$26bn project, none of the three put in tenders; Bombardier said it was unable to bid as its technology did not meet the specifications.

The project calls for trains with 23m cars operating at 750V DC third rail on a route with 16 stations, with some trains running fast to the airport.

The project had been criticised in a report by Prof Brian Mellitt of Hong Kong Transportation Consultants, which had been asked to assess the project on behalf of the Transportation Committee of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. In late August, the China Times quoted Mellitt as calling for an independent safety analysis, highlighting the possibility of poor adhesion on a steeply-graded and sharply-curved route.