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Operator aims to launch Taoyuan Airport MRT service by year-end

2016/10/11 22:36:26

CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) The chairman of Taoyuan Metro Corp., which operates the mass rapid transit system that will link Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, said Tuesday that his company aims to launch the 35.7-km service by the end of this year.

Taoyuan Metro Corp. will use the "strictest standards" to ensure the safety of the system, the launch of which has been delayed six times, said Liu Kun-yi (劉坤億) during a meeting on the progress of the project.

The 4,522 defects reported during the period from October 2015 to February 2016 have mostly been addressed, he said, adding that as of August this year, only 200-odd still required work. The progress means that the system's general stability was raised from 76 percent in August last year to 96 percent in August this year, he noted.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), which supervises the operation of all the country's major transportation systems, has not set a schedule for launching the service, but Taoyuan Metro Corp. is aiming to get MOTC approval to begin passenger services by the end of the year.

To win that approval, the MRT system must pass a third-party safety and stability verification by the Ricardo consultancy, according to Liu, who promised that passenger services will not be launched until after 99 percent stability has been ensured, as required by law.

In late August, an independent task force headed by Chiang Yao-chung (江耀宗) to facilitate the system's progress said that safety concerns over the long-awaited line had been addressed and that operations could start in the near future.

Nevertheless, other non-safety-related standards stipulated in the contract were still to be met, including travel times, train speed and intervals, Chiang said at the time.

For instance, travel time between the Taipei Main Station and Airport Terminal 1 remains at around 36 minutes, falling one minute short of the target, according to the MOTC's Bureau of High Speed Rail, which is responsible for construction of the airport MRT line.

The line, which has been under construction since 2006 and will serve 22 stations, including 14 from Taipei Main Station to the airport, was originally scheduled to open in 2010, but has been delayed six times, largely due to signal problems and a lack of coordination between the line's contractors.

(By Bien Chin-feng and S.C. Chang)