INTRO: With a contract for E&M equipment and rolling stock signed and sealed, civil works are getting under way on the Taipei - Kaohsiung high speed line. Murray Hughes reports from Taiwan

ON DECEMBER 12 2000 Chairman of Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp Nita Ing signed the NT$95bn Core System contract for the 346 km Taipei - Kaohsiung high speed line with Taiwan Shinkansen Corp. It was the culmination of years of planning and negotiations that began in the late 1980s when the first proposals for the route were formulated. The project is the largest public-private partnership ever contemplated in Taiwan, and the government considers it to be of national importance.

THSRC now has around 1760 days left to finish designing the 1435mm gauge line, get it built, test it and launch commercial operations. If the current target opening date of October 2005 is met, THSRC will have 28 years to operate the line for profit, after which the line will be transferred to government or a ’nominated successor operator’ in 2033.

Concession agreement

THSRC was formally established in 1998 when the group won the right to build and operate the 300 km/h railway between Taiwan’s two major cities for 35 years under a concession agreement signed in July that year. The company also won the right to undertake property development at five initial station sites for 35 years, and on certain sites adjacent to these stations for 50 years.

Civil engineering contracts for 11 lots (Table I) were agreed in 1999, and formal signature of the various deals followed between March and May 2000. A twelfth contract covering the 3 km at the southern end of the route is to be signed early this year. All are lump sum design-and-build contracts, with the contractors free to use their own structure designs within the specifications set by THSRC.

One of the remarkable features of the double track alignment is that there will be 157 km of continuous viaduct out of a total of 251 km; 61 km of the line will be in tunnel, with just 33 km at grade, or in cuttings or on embankments.

Consultants’ role

The contractors’ proposals are vetted by the Independent Checking Engineers, a group of railway engineering consultants formed of Systra of France, DE-Consult from Germany, Mott MacDonald from Britain and Electrowatt Engineering of Switzerland. The ICE reports to the Construction Management Group, which administers the various contracts for THSRC. Lloyd’s Register has been appointed as the Independent Verification & Validation Institution who will be responsible for certifying to THSRC and to the Ministry of Transport & Communications that the line is safe and ready to operate before opening. AEA Technology and Tony Gee & Partners are working with Lloyd’s.

During 2000 the civil contractors carried out site investigations and other preparatory work ready to launch piling, tunnelling and earthworks in the first half of this year. The start of major works had to await signature of the Core System contract, as only after this deal had been concluded was THSRC permitted to draw down from the banks funding the project. A maintenance contract due to be signed this month will complete the jigsaw.

Project funding

Cost of the project is currently NT$443m, which excludes the government’s ’scope of works’, covering land purchase arrangements. Also excluded from this figure is the cost of commercial property development.

Finance is a combination of shareholder equity and long-term loans. Following signature of a Tripartite Agreement between THSRC, the Ministry of Transport & Communications and various banks, THSRC signed a credit facility on February 2 2000 with 25 local banks led by Bank of Taiwan, International Commercial Bank of China and Chiao Tong Bank. The agreement provides for THSRC to draw up to NT$308·3bn of long-term loans to fund the project.

THSRC’s paid-up capital is currently NT$40bn, and the remaining equity is to be raised through corporate and institutional participation in private placement shares. It will be drawn pro-rata with debt to maintain a debt-to-equity ratio of around 70:30. In due course an initial public offering with a listing on the Taiwan Stock Exchange is envisaged to broaden the shareholder base.

One or more Special Purpose Vehicles will be set up to handle works relating to commercial property development at five intermediate stations and on adjacent land. This will remain separate from the railway business.

Apart from direct funding for land purchase, the government has made available through the Council for Economic Planning & Development up to NT$240bn of long-term finance, of which NT$210bn is from postal savings funds and the rest is from insurance and pension funds. As a further contribution to the project, the government has agreed to share certain risks and to fund restoration after a possible natural disaster. Following the earthquake that struck central Taiwan in September 1999, this is of major significance to THSRC which would otherwise be faced with the possibility of having to fund repairs itself. Earthquake detectors will be fitted along the route, as on the Shinkansen in Japan.

As a further indication of its support for the scheme, the government has agreed a number of tax incentives for THSRC and its shareholders. These include tax credits and holidays and relaxation of the import duty rules for materials and equipment.

Should the concession agreement have to be terminated prematurely, the government has agreed to buy out all works in progress and the operating assets, with the proceeds being paid directly to the lenders. The government has a direct contractual relationship with the banks through the Tripartite Agreement.

Core System contract

The Core System contract covers mechanical and electrical equipment, including supply of rolling stock. Following selection of the EuroTrain consortium formed of Siemens and Alstom as preferred E&M bidder in 1997, THSRC did not sign a formal contract and changed its mind on December 28 1999. Despite a strong rearguard action from the European suppliers, THSRC went ahead and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japanese-based Taiwan Shinkansen Corp on June 13 2000 in Taipei. After five months of negotiations, the deal was formally signed in December in Tokyo by Nita Ing and TSC President Kazuo Sato.

TSC members include Mitsubishi Industries Ltd, Mitsubishi Corp, Sumitomo Corp, Toshiba Corp, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsui & Co Ltd. Also present at the signing ceremony were representatives of JR Central, JR West and Japan Railway Technical Services. Both Japanese railways will provide technical assistance, and training of Taiwanese instructors will be carried out on the Shinkansen.

Rolling stock

Both JR Central and JR West operate versions of the Series 700 Shinkansen train, a derivative of which has been selected by THSRC. In Japan, Series 700 sets have a maximum speed of 285 km/h, but the Taiwanese version will have Series 500 bogies designed to permit 300 km/h running. An initial fleet of 30 trainsets, each of 12 cars, will be built, but options may take the total to 55.

The first trains are due to reach Taiwan in early 2004 for final assembly and fitting out at the main workshop at Yien Chou. Testing will take place over a 60 km section north of Kaohsiung and south of Chiayi at the southern end of the route. This will be the first section to be finished and commissioned, and trials are likely to include runs at 350 km/h.

The trains will be air-conditioned and pressure-sealed to prevent discomfort to passengers as trains enter tunnels. Up to 950 seats per train will rotate and recline with a 2+2 layout in first class and 2+3 in ’deluxe’. First class seats will have individual reading lights and footrests, and hot meals will be served to first class passengers. Those in deluxe will be served snacks from a trolley, but vending machines will also be available, as will a boutique for all passengers.

Passenger information displays will show destination, arrival time and the train’s speed as well as weather conditions at stations ahead. Telephones and fax machines will be available, and accommodation will be provided for passengers in wheelchairs.

Station and track contracts

Four detailed design consultancy contracts for six stations were let in October 1999, and tenders for the station construction contracts are to be called in June 2001 for letting by the year end. Detailed design of depots starts early this year, and invitations to prequalify for design and installation of trackwork were issued in November last year.

Five separate contracts will be let for the trackworks, with rail specified at 60 kg/m. Prequalification began in October last year, and contract awards are scheduled for mid-2001. At the end of 2000 plans envisaged that there would be two contracts for slab track covering Km 16·8 to Km 185·8, and two for ballasted track between Km 185·8 and Km 345·1; this reflects the nature of the terrain and the location of viaducts and tunnels. There is still a possibility of using slab track over the whole route.

A further contract covers Km 1 to Km 16·8, which is to be built in Taiwan Railway Administration’s existing cross-city tunnel. Carrying the line through central Taipei, it consists mainly of a four-track tunnel. Two tracks of TRA’s 1067mm gauge tracks will be replaced by standard-gauge slab track. TRA is unhappy with this plan, as it will be expected to continue to run the present service of long-distance and suburban trains on just two tracks during the transition phase.

At the southern end of the route trains will terminate at Tsoying in the northern suburbs of Kaohsiung, where passengers will transfer to local trains, metro or taxi. At a later date the line may be extended into the city centre, but funds for this are not included in the current project.

The line will equipped for bidirectional working with full CTC, and all trains will have ATO and ATP. Trains will have on-board fault diagnosis and monitoring systems.

Service pattern

THSRC plans to run several levels of service, with a minimum interval between trains of 4min. When the full service is running, up to 200 trains a day will operate in each direction between 06.00 and 23.59, with services between the two cities making one intermediate stop at Taichung taking about 90min. The slowest trains calling at all 10 intermediate stations will be timed at 2h 16min.

Only seven of the intermediate stations will be built by 2010, with those at Miaoli, Changhua and Yunlin to follow later. Stations at Panchiao in the Taipei suburbs, at Taoyuan and eventually at Nankang north of Taipei will be constructed underground.

Traffic forecasts suggest that 17·1 million passengers will ride the line in the first full year, rising to 25·2 million by 2008 and 33 million by 2023.

l World’s largest BOT project

l Target opening date October 2005

l First Shinkansen export contract

Table I: Civil engineering contacts for

Taipei - Kaohsiung high speed line

TABLE: Contract Start Finish Length Contractor Groundbreaking

C210 Km 16·8 Km 28·1 11·3 km Obayashi/Futsu JV April 1 2000

C215 Km 28·1 Km 68·5 40·4 km Obayashi/Futsu JV April 1 2000

C220 Km 68·5 Km 86·3 17·8 km Daiho/Chiutai/Koukai JV April 1 2001

C230 Km 86·3 Km 109·8 23·5 km Hyundai/Chung Lin/ Zen Pacific JV May 1 2000

C240 Km 109·8 Km 130·6 20·8 km Hyundai/Chung Lin JV May 1 2000

C250 Km 130·6 Km 170·4 39·8 km Hochtief/Ballast Nedam/

Pan Asia JV May 1 2000

C260 Km 170·4 Km 207·0 36·6 km B+B/CEC JV April 1 2000

C270 Km 207·0 Km 249·8 42·8 km B+B/CEC JV April 1 2000

C280 Km 249·8 Km 284·2 34·4 km Samsung/Hanjung/IE&C JV March 1 2000

C291 Km 284·2 Km 312·7 28·5 km Evergreen/Shimizu JV April 1 2000

C295 Km 312·7 Km 340·1 27·4 km Evergreen/Italian Thai/ PEWC JV April 1 2000

C296 Km 340·1 Km 343·1 3·0 km To be announced N/A

Table II. Main data for Taipei

- Kaohsiung high speed line

TABLE: Gauge mm 1435

Route length km 346

Power supply 25 kV 60Hz

Maximum commercial speed km/h 300

Maximum design speed km/h 350

Minimum curve radius m 6250

Steepest gradient % 3·5

Distance between track centres mm 4500

Cool head at the top

Nita Ing is Chairman of THSRC. As President of Continental Engineering Corp, she proved to be a formidable leader in the battle for the right to build Taiwan’s high speed railway, beating into second place a consortium that was backed by the Kuomintang.

Born in 1955, she studied economics at the University of California and later worked for her father who ran the construction company Continental Engineering. She became President at the age of 32 and in 1994 succeeded in having the company’s shares listed. She was described by Asiaweek magazine last year as an icon who was ’symbolic of a Taiwan that, if not an independent nation, boasts an independent spirit’.

THSRC partners

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp was formed from Taiwan High Speed Rail Consortium, which consisted of: Continental Engineering Corp, Evergreen Marine Corp (Taiwan) Ltd, Fubon Insurance Co Ltd, Pacific Electric Wire & Cable Co Ltd, TECO Electric & Machinery Co Ltd.

CAPTION: Excavation begins at the south portal of the Linkou tunnel, part of Contract 210 Photo: A Boniface

CAPTION: Signature of the Core System contract in Tokyo last December was a major milestone that took the project from paper to reality

CAPTION: The main workshop will be located at Yien Chou north of Kaohsiung, and maintenance bases are planned at Liuchia and Taipao. Rolling stock depots are to be provided at Hsichih, Wujih and Tsoying

CAPTION: Preparations for the start of excavation of the top half of the Hukou tunnel at the south portal, around 70 km South west of Taipei

Photo: A Boniface

CAPTION: Access roads were built last year to some of the tunnel sites

CAPTION: Fig 1. Full service pattern planned by THSRC when all stations are open

THSRC starts major works this month

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp has around 1700 days left to design, build and test its 346 km high speed line between Taipei and Kaohsiung before opening in October 2005. The private sector company will then have 28 years of its concession left to run the line for profit before transferring it to the Taiwanese government. Civil engineering contracts were awarded in 1999, and site works are expected to start this month following signature of the Core System Contract on December 12

Grands travaux ce mois-ci pour la THSRC

Il reste environ 1760 jours à la Taãwan High Speed Rail Corporation pour concevoir, construire et procéder aux essais de la ligne de 346 km à grande vitesse entre Taãpeh et Kaohsiung, avant son ouverture en octobre 2005. La compagnie appartenant au secteur privé disposera alors d’une concession de 28 ans pour exploiter la ligne et réaliser des bénéfices avant de la transférer au gouvernement taãwanais. Les contrats de génie civil ont été attribués en 1999, et le démarrage des travaux sur le site est attendu pour ce mois-ci, après la signature du contrat principal le 12 décembre 2000

THSRC beginnt diesen Monat mit wesentlichen Arbeiten

Die Taiwanesische Hochgeschwindigkeits-Bahngesellschaft hat angekündigt, dass noch 1760 Tage für die Projektierung, Ausführung und Inbetriebnahme der 346 km langen Hochgeschwindigkeitsstrecke zwischen Taipei und Kaohsiung verbleiben, damit diese im Oktober 2005 er