The NT$22.5 billion construction project to connect the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) International Airport with the Greater Taipei area via a mass rapid transit system became official yesterday as the Bureau of High Speed Rail signed a contract with a group of Japanese firms, promising the infrastructure would be fully launched by August 2012.
A much anticipated MRT system that would link downtown Taipei to the international airport within 35 minutes, offering an alternative to getting between both places via the Sun Yat-sen Freeway, the project is considered a stepping stone in economic development while promoting the island's tourism industry.
The MRT project has suffered over a decade of setbacks on contract bidding, because it was initially a "Build-Operate-Transfer" project, which signifies that it would be constructed by a private-owned contractor. However, its previous contractor, Chang Shen Enterprise, was suffering financial difficulties, and the government decided to take it back and have it built with governmental funds.
Wu Fu-hsiang (吳福祥), the director of the BHSR, said that a nation as dependent on transportation as Taiwan should have an MRT service to the airport, in order to compete with Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. Wu added that he was grateful the project was finally on its way to being built.
According to Wu, the MRT service would be launched periodically, because the underground construction of the stretch between Sanchung City and Taipei Main Station would be more difficult to build. The BHSR estimated that service between Chungli City in Taoyuan County and Sanchung City could commence by March 2011.
The contractors, Marubeni Corporation, Kawasaki Machinery Co., and Hitachi Corporation, are expected to begin construction next month, with Marubeni in charge of the construction per se, Kawasaki building the passenger cars, and Hitachi providing the electric system.