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Hualien – Taitung electrification inaugurated

30 Jun 2014

TAIWAN: Electric train services began running between Hualien and Taitung on June 28, completing the electrification of Taiwan Railways Administration’s East Coast main line.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, President of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou said the construction period had been cut from seven to five years, despite difficult geological and climate conditions. The government had previously envisaged that electric services would start in March 2015.

Electric trains began running over the northernmost 182 km of the route from Taipei to Hualien in mid-2003. Work to install 25 kV 60 Hz electrification on the 162 km from Hualien to Taitung began in 2009 at a cost of NT$15·5bn, with a further NT$6bn allocated for station improvements. A revised budget of NT$25·4bn was adopted in 2012.

Completed in 1926, the coastal line was converted from 762 mm to 1 067 mm gauge in 1982 and extensively realigned to accommodate through diesel trains from Taipei to Taitung. It is now being partially double-tracked to increase capacity by around 40%, with the maximum speed increased from 110 to 130 km/h.

TRA is initially operating an interim electric service, with a full service scheduled to start on July 15 following two weeks of trial operation. By that date the operator expects to have accepted the last of the 17 Puyuma Express eight-car tilting trainsets being built for the line by Sumitomo and Nippon Sharyo.

The fastest journey time between Taipei and Taitung has been shortened to 3 h 30 min, saving one hour by eliminating the change to a diesel train at Hualien. The fastest Puyuma Express services reach Hualien in 2 h from the capital and then call only at Yuli en route to Taitung. Other trains serve up to 28 intermediate stations along the coastal section.

Minister of Transportation & Communications Yeh Kuang-shih said the ministry was studying whether to double-track the entire line. He confirmed that electrification of the South Link between Taitung and Kaohsiung would begin before the end of this year, describing this as ‘the last mile’ and noting that electrification of the West Coast route from Taipei to Kaohsiung had been completed in 1979.

  • Read our article on the Hualien - Taitung electrification scheme in the January 2014 issue of Railway Gazette International, available to subscribers in our digital archive.