TAIWAN High Speed Rail Corp signed a Memorandum of Understanding on June 13 with the Taiwan Shinkansen Consortium for the NT$95bn E&M systems contract to equip the Taipei - Kaohsiung high-speed line. The deal was signed by THSRC Senior Vice-President Lee Kuo-hsiung and TSC representative Yoshiyuki Yokota. 'By signing this memorandum, THSRC has now selected TSC for sole negotiations in respect of the core system', explained Chairman Nita Ing.

The formal contract was due to be signed within a month, but Ms Ing had earlier suggested that detailed negotiations could take another six to 12 months.

Led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, TSC includes other Japanese suppliers Sumitomo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Toshiba Electric plus trading companies Marubeni and Mitsui. The consortium was selected as preferred bidder in December, overtaking the Eurotrain group led by Siemens and Alstom (RG 3.00 p149). The High Court in Taipei rejected Eurotrain's latest legal challenge last month.

Under the terms of the MoU agreed on June 2, TSC is expected to take a 10% equity stake in THSRC. Japan's Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development will provide a loan covering up to 85% of the contract value.

The core systems contract covers supply of 300 km/h rolling stock, power supplies, signalling and communications, and lineside equipment. An initial fleet of 30 trains derived from the JR-West Series 700 shinkansen stock is envisaged; increasing to 51 sets by 2023.

Each unit will have 11 deluxe cars seating 912 passengers and a First Class car accommodating 68. First deliveries are due early in 2004 for testing on a 60 km section of the line. The rest of the contract is to be completed by summer 2005 to allow time for full service trials ahead of the opening later that year.