TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) raised a proposal to extend Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) northward to Yilan County last month, in addition to the existing proposal for a direct train route via a Taipei-Yilan Line (北宜直線), UDN reports.
Currently, the West Coast Line (縱貫線) runs through Keelung and then connects to the Yilan Line (宜蘭線), hence a direct line between Taipei and Yilan could substantially cut down the traffic time. However, the Taipei-Yilan Line project has been stuck for over three years due to environmental concerns regarding the catchment area of Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫), according to the Railway Bureau.
In order to satisfy the demand for a more rapid means to reach eastern Taiwan, a northward extension of THSR could be an alternative. The expansion could avoid the catchment area in question while compensating for the detour with its higher speed.
However, the Railway Bureau says that there has not been any evaluation made on a THSR northward extension and that it would require collecting opinions from local governments and ascertaining the environmental impact. The bureau also points out that the cost of THSR railway could be higher, therefore both the Taipei-Yilan Line and THSR northward extension have their pros and cons.
MOTC expects to conduct a preliminary analysis by July and complete an evaluation within six months. However, THSR Corporation says that its BOT (build-operate-transfer) contract with the government only covers the area between Taipei's Nangang Station (南港站) and Zuoying Station (左營站) in Kaohsiung and that it currently has no plan to operate lines beyond the contract.