FEBRUARY 21 is due to see the selection of a preferred bidder for the concession to build a high-speed rail link between Taipei and Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, with a contract to be signed by the end of April. Five prequalified consortia presented proposals to the Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail towards the end of 1997. The build-operate-transfer concession envisages the line opening in 2003 followed by a 30-year operating period.

Top MRT envisages a 200 km/h TGV derivative, whilst Tai-Union prefers a linear induction motor drive based on the Canadian ALRT. Global MRT favours a conventional metro trainset operating at up to 160 km/h, whilst CS International Development is offering a Japanese design of Automated Guided Transit. The fifth bidder Interport Express Corp favours German technology, proposing ET425 low-floor S-Bahn EMUs from Siemens. o