Rail expansion dominates Taiwan's urban transport plans
ON JUNE 26 President Su Tseng-chang of Taiwan presided over groundbreaking ceremonies in Taoyuan County for the 51·5 km rail link between Taipei and Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport (RG 2.06 p58).
Expected to cost NT$93·6bn to complete, the line is supposed to be partially financed from a special package of 10 major projects approved by the Executive Yuan in 2003, and the President called on legislators to release the NT$11·7bn appropriation which had been frozen by 'political squabbling'.
The first section between the airport and Sanchong on the edge of the capital is due to open by the end of 2010, and the rest by 2011. China Engineering Consultants Inc is responsible for 75% of the design work. Electrical and mechanical equipment is coming from a Japanese consortium led by Marubeni Corp. The line will offer two levels of service. Express trains from central Taipei to CKS International Airport will take 35min, with local trains to Chungli calling at the 19 intermediate stations.
Whilst international attention has largely been focused on the 346 km high speed line between Taipei and Kaohsiung, which is nominally due to open in October, Jeng-Gun Lee of CECI revealed in a presentation arranged by UK Trade & Investment in London in June that numerous urban rail schemes are now under consideration in Taiwan. In addition, Taiwan Railway Administration is planning nine major renovation or reconstruction projects for 2008-19. Several of these entail construction of elevated sections or tunnels to eliminate level crossings in built-up areas.
The urban rail projects range from extension of the Taipei metro to 'light rail' lines - which would be classed as light metros elsewhere. Many schemes are still at an early stage, but others are more mature concepts for which bids may be sought in the near future. In Taipei the Stage 2 works will take the metro from 69·1 km to 139 km by 2012, with Stage 3 adding a further 111 km by 2021, when 3·6 million people a day are expected to be riding the trains.
The first Stage 2 project to be completed was Phase II of the Panchiao Line from Panchiao to Tucheng, opening simultaneously with the Tucheng Line to Yungning on May 31, three months ahead of schedule. These added 7·5 km and six stations to the network. Also covered by Stage 2 is the 14·8 km Neihu line from Chungshan Middle School to Songshan Airport and Nankang Exhibition Center. Due to open in June 2008, this forms an extension of the Mucha Line that uses French rubber-tyred VAL technology.
Just a few months later the 2·5 km eastern extension of the Nankang Line is due to open, linking with the Neihu Line. After that will come the 19·7 km Hsing-Chuang Line from Guting via Minquan to Hsin-Chuang, terminating at Huilong in the southwest. The section from Zhongxiao-Xinsheng to Huilong is due to open at the end of 2009, with the central section serving Dongmen and Guting following a year later. Branching off this route, the Luchou Line from Taipei Bridge to Sanchung and Luchou will open by the end of 2009.
Two other lines will complete Stage 2. One is the Hsinyi Line from Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall east to the Hsinyi Financial District, due to open in 2011. The other is the 8·5 km Songshan Line from Ximen to Bade Road near TRA's Songshan station which is expected to enter service in 2012.
Rolling stock for the steel-wheeled metro extensions consists of 24 trains being built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries under a contract dating from 2003. The first three sets had been delivered by the end of May.
Taipei's third stage
No less than 11 schemes are under consideration for Stage 3, which is due for completion by 2021. Several are medium-capacity or light rail lines, while one proposal to serve the Hsinyi area with a circular route envisages Linimo maglev technology as pioneered in Nagoya (RG 9.04 p539); this revives part of a more ambitious three-route scheme rejected by Taipei City Government in June 2005.
According to CECI, either conventional bidding or a BOT proposal will be used for a light rail network serving the Shehtze, Shihlin and Peitou areas to the north of the city. An 8·8 km east-west line with 11 stations and a 9·1 km north-south route with 10 stations are envisaged. A similar bidding process is envisaged for a light rail link that would join the satellite towns of Wante, Chungo and Shulin south and west of the city with the metropolitan area.
One Stage 3 project has already been approved by the Executive Yuan. This is the Taipei County Orbital Medium-Capacity Transit Line, which is to be built in two stages. The first 15·4 km section will have 14 stations and will connect five other metro lines. The 19·4 km second section with 17 stations is less advanced and construction will depend on progress with the first section. CECI says the Orbital project 'may start soon'.
Taiwan's second largest city, Kaohsiung, hopes to open the first part of its own MRT network on October 30, with the rest of the 42·7 km initial route due to be completed by October 2007. CECI is responsible for construction management, and Siemens is contracted as project manager for E&M equipment and system integration. Siemens is also responsible for signalling, traction power supply and rolling stock. Schneider Electric Industries SA is providing other power supply equipment, and Singapore Technologies Electronics is the supplier of telecoms and platform screen doors.
Also proposed in Kaohsiung is the TRA Harbour Area Light Rail System which is intended to promote commercial development in the port area. This is a 15·2 km circular route that would take over a TRA right-of-way.
CECI expects work to start in 2007 on a 16·5 km MRT line in Taichung, with completion anticipated in 2013. Apart from a 40light rail scheme also proposed in Taichung, CECI drew attention at the London briefing to urban rail projects in Keelung, Taoyuan, Chiayi and Tainan.
CAPTION: Work is now well in hand on Stage 2 of the Taipei metro network. Schemes being developed for Stage 3 include more medium-capacity routes and feeder links
TABLE: Urban rail projects in Taiwan
Metro Stage 2