Major infrastructure works and trackwork installation on Taiwan's high speed line are nearing completion and contractors are hurrying to finish the electrical and mechanical works

WITH THE final section of track now in position on Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp's 345 km line between Taipei and Kaohsiung, work is in hand to ready the line for the start of commercial operations at 300 km/h. Opening was originally planned for October, but reports of delays suggest that mid-2006 may be a more achievable target.

The first of 30 trainsets derived from the Series 700 Shinkansen design arrived in Taiwan in May 2004, and test running on the 60 km test section at the south end of the line between Tsoying and Tainan commenced in January 2005.

The main line track contracts were awarded in mid-2002, and construction commenced in March 2003. The line incorporates the longest continuous length of slab track in the world, with 342 km of double-track route. Another feature is the world's longest continuous viaduct, 157 km long (RG 1.04 p46).

The railway was designed in the early 1990s by European consultants. The initial French trackform design was ballasted throughout, but German consultants later placed the tunnel sections on slab track. After economic evaluation THSRC decided in 2001 to use slab track on the whole route. Only at Tsoying, where very poor ground conditions exist, and in the depots, is ballasted track used.

The line has a unique mix of Japanese Shinkansen 'J-slab' and a Rheda trackform in the station areas. The original alignment was based on European turnout geometry, which determined the layout of the viaducts supporting the turnouts and the tunnel at Taoyuan station.

Consequently, even though the main trackwork contractor is Japanese, all main line turnouts had to be sourced from Europe as Japan has no high speed turnout technology. This required the use of Rheda trackform adjacent to all turnouts and crossovers, as this had to be compatible with the turnout support system. In the tunnels below central Taipei, Sonneville low-vibration track has been installed to reduce ground-borne vibration; Edilon embedded rail is used in Taipei station.

  • CAPTION: TOP: Completed J-slab track on the northern section of THSRC's main line
  • CENTRE: High speed BWG turnout in Tainan station
  • LEFT: Finishing works on the Rheda trackform in Tainan
  • RIGHT: Testing of the rolling stock fleet is underway in the main workshop north of Tsoying; all 30 trainsets should be delivered by next month