TAIWAN: Public services began running on the island's second metro network on March 9, following the formal opening of Kaohsiung's 28 km Red Line the preceding day.

Heading the list of VIPs riding the inaugural train were Premier Chang Chen-Hsiung and Mayor Chen Chu. Outgoing President Chen Shui-Bien had visited the city on March 7 to unveil a public artwork at Formosa Boulevard station in the city centre. Following the opening, KRTC Chairman Lin Wen-Yuan announced that passengers would be able to sample the line free for the first month, with revenue operation beginning on April 6. After that a flat fare of NT$12 will apply for another three months.

Costing NT$186bn in total, the two-line first phase of the metro network is being built by the private sector Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp under a 35-year BOT concession awarded in 2000. KRTC is mainly owned by local businesses, with China Steel as the major shareholder. Siemens has supplied a fleet of 42 three-car trainsets, as well as the signalling, train control and power supply systems.

The north-south Red Line links Gangshan with Siaogang, serving 21 intermediate stations. There are interchanges serving the Thsrc terminus at Zuoying, TRA's Main Station and the city's international airport. At Formosa Boulevard, the Red Line will connect with the 14 km east-west Orange line from Sizihwan to Daliao, which is now expected to open in August.

In the longer term, the city's metro planning bureau KMRT is planning to develop two further lines, designated Blue and Brown, plus an orbital light rail line around the city centre.