High speed rail to expand to northeast Taiwan

Yilan City mayor hopes trains will start running by 2030

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By 2030, high speed train travel might be possible between Yilan and Pingtung 

By 2030, high speed train travel might be possible between Yilan and Pingtung  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A decade from now, Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) trains might for the first time reach the east coast as they arrive in Yilan, according to reports Thursday (Oct. 15).

A Ministry of Transportation committee picked the longest of three possible routes between Nangang in Taipei City and the city of Yilan in order to avoid the catchment area for the Feicui Reservoir, CNA reported.

At 45 kilometers, proposal C would have been the shortest way to have trains move between the capital and Yilan City, but 11.6 km of the route passed across the reservoir’s catchment area, giving rise to environmental concerns.

Proposal B, 54.1 km long, included a stretch of 3.8 km near the reservoir, but proposal A, while being the longest route at 56.4 km, avoided the catchment area entirely, thus winning a seal of approval from the ministry.

The mayor of Yilan City, a proponent of the high speed rail line, expressed satisfaction with the choice, as he had feared environmental opposition might have slowed down the project. However, as project A also included tunnels totaling a length of 11.4 km, delays could still be possible, reports said.

The mayor said he hoped trains could start running on the new line by 2030. Taiwan’s high speed rail system links Taipei with Kaohsiung along the west coast, with an extension planned further south to Pingtung. The extension at the other end, between Taipei and Yilan, will be the first to reach the less-populated and less-accessible east coast.