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Transportation minister envisions one high-speed rail line around Taiwan

Extensions from Yilan to Hualien and from Pingtung to Taitung will form next phase

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Travel all around Taiwan by high-speed rail is the ultimate aim, says Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai. 

Travel all around Taiwan by high-speed rail is the ultimate aim, says Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Extensions of the existing high-speed rail line to Yilan in the northeast and to Pingtung in the south will eventually lead to services around Taiwan, Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said Wednesday (June 8).

The country’s only line began operations in 2007 on a stretch of rail with a length of more than 350 kilometers between Taipei and Kaohsiung, but in 2019-2020, the government approved proposals to extend the line northeast from Nangang Station in Taipei City to Yilan County, and in the south from Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung City to Pingtung City.

The two projects will start around 2025 and take about a decade to complete, but in the end, round-the-nation travel will gradually be realized, Wang told a television interview Wednesday. The next phases will be extensions from Yilan to Hualien and from Pingtung to Taitung, but because the cost of building the track is high, the project will have to advance step by step, according to the minister.

He estimated the cost of the Yilan extension with its 10 tunnels at NT$188 billion (US$6.36 billion) and the cost of the Pingtung project at NT$55.4 billion, CNA reported.

Wang denied there would be a rivalry between the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), with its dozen stations, and the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), with its 240 stations, as both services could complement each other.