Taiwan’s HSR extension unlikely to boost local growth

Proposal draws criticism for being intended to influence voters

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HSR Facebook photo

HSR Facebook photo

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwanese government's plan to extend the island’s High Speed Rail (HSR) line to Pingtung County can hardly generate local growth without the promotion of industry clusters, said Society of Railway and National Planning, Taiwan (SRNP) on Tuesday (Sept. 10).

The organization, which is dedicated to researching rail development, noted that the extension will not bring much benefit to residents other than reducing the time and hassle of making a transfer at Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung, wrote the Central News Agency.

Transportation infrastructure should be implemented from a long-term perspective and take into account national spatial planning and industry development, the Society stressed. To expect a single transportation project to drive local development is simply unrealistic, it added.

The Society suggested that the proposed funds for the construction of the HSR extension should be directed to expanding southern Taiwan's air transportation capacity. Enhancing local transportation efficiency should also be considered a priority, wrote the report.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced plans on Sept. 10 to extend the HSR line to Pingtung, the southernmost municipality of Taiwan and home to the tourist town of Kenting. The proposal, which is part of a broader plan to complete a ring of rail networks around the island, has been slammed as being based on electoral considerations as the island gears up for the presidential election in 2020.