TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) today (Sept. 10) announced government plans to extend Taiwan's High-Speed Rail (HSR) line to Pingtung, thereby completing a ring of rail networks around the island.
During a visit to Pingtung today, Su announced several new transportation projects, including the extension of the HSR line to Pingtung, reported CNA. This new line, combined with the existing HSR line in western Taiwan and rapid express trains in the east would complete a ring of rail networks around the island.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that whether it is the southern or northern extension of high-speed railway, or the western HSR and the eastern express railway, forming a railway network around the island is the ultimate goal of national policy.
Based on plans by the Railway Bureau, there are four routes being considered for the extension of HSR to Pingtung, two of which would be on elevated tracks from Yanchao and Zuoying. The two other routes would be extended through Kaohsiung and would be underground.
The elevated train route would run from Zuoying and head south, first arriving at Kaohsiung International Airport. It would then head east and arrive at Pingtung's Chaozhou Township, reported CNA.
The underground route would run from Zuoying and would follow Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) corridors. It would first go south before heading east to Pingtung's Liukuaicuo Railway Station, according to the report.
In response to Su's announcement, Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) on Facebook said that among the four routes being considered, she strongly advocates the one "going through Kaohsiung Main Station to Pingtung" to penetrate through the city's urban areas. She said this would create a multi-station network in southern Taiwan and enhance the transportation efficiency of Kaohsiung.
Huang said that having the three railway stations Zuoying, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung connected in the south would be the same way Banqiao, Taipei, and Nangang are connected in greater Taipei. However, she questioned whether the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had taken advantage of the new project to "block Han" and skip urban Kaohsiung by opting for the direct Zuoying to Pingtung route.
In response to some who questioned if the HSR extension to Pingtung was timed to win votes during the election, Su said, "This is demeaning to President Tsai and the Premier of the Cabinet, and is demeaning to the people of Pingtung and Taiwan," reported CNA. He said the plan is not just a temporary gesture for the elections, but is meant for the coming centuries in Taiwan.
The extension is not just for the citizens of Pingtung, but also for Taiwan's overall development, said Su. The premier said that the extension will serve to upgrade the entire rail transportation network and enable Taiwan's railway transport network to combine the flow of people and logistics, and "only then will Taiwan have a place to compete with the world."
Map showing four proposed routes for HSR extension to Pingtung. (CNA image)