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High-speed railway given approval with conditions

Ho refuses to comment on whether launch will be rescheduled

High-speed railway given approval with conditions

Based on the conclusions of a special inspection review committee meeting yesterday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it will give conditional approval for the high-speed rail to begin operations.
The inspection review committee, composed of 16 professionals and headed by Director-General of National Expressway Bureau Lee Tai-ming, listed six conditions that must be met before the bullet train service could be launched.
According to one of the committee members, Feng Cheng Ming, the committee strongly advised that before Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. could obtain permission from the MOTC to begin operations, the THSRC should to conduct more test runs and fulfill a "no accidents in a month" requirement.
"The THSRC has to be able to dispatch regular trains going both ways within 90 minutes of each other for two consecutive weeks, and it has to be able to dispatch trains going one way every 10 minutes," said Feng, adding a pattern has been set to ascertain THSRC's ability to serve the needs of passengers.
Moreover, the committee advised the MOTC to monitor the THSRC more closely and to make sure that no accidents occur before December 24, a one-month period from the last derailment on November 24. The committee also advised the MOTC to examine the traffic signal system of the high-speed rail. Only after all these conditions are met, will the committee give approval for the service to be launched and vouch for its safety, Feng said.
MOTC Vice Minister Ho Nuan-hsuan said late yesterday evening that the ministry respects the opinions of the review committee and will do its best to shoulder the responsibility of examining and monitoring the high-speed rail.
Ho refused to comment on whether the formal launch, slated for December 7, would be delayed based on the conclusions of yesterday's meeting, saying that the right to decide on the inauguration of the service lies with the THSRC.
According to the MOTC's estimation, the THSRC will be granted permission to launch the rail service late December, at earliest.
The THSRC was scheduled to conduct a test ride from Banciao High Speed Rail Station to Zuoying Station for media workers today.
Meanwhile, during a question-and-answer session in the Legislature yesterday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he would not attend the launch of the high speed rail if the THSRC fails to obtain the required permission before the scheduled date of the ceremony.
People First Party Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said in the Legislature yesterday that his party would cut the entire Bureau of High Speed Rail budget if it keeps offering test rides to the media and other non-THSRC staff before it obtains permission to begin service.
Lee questioned why the bureau was allowing the THSRC to invite reporters to take a test ride today.