Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) The long-delayed mass rapid transit (MRT) line between Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport will begin trial runs after the Lunar New Year but before the Lantern Festival on Feb. 11, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said Wednesday.
While Transport Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) expressed optimism last year that the trial runs could take place before the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, Cheng said the line will not be able to get an operation permit from the ministry in time because the system is still being improved after a final inspection earlier this month.
Cheng said the line will get the permit near the Lunar New Year and will start trial runs by the Lantern Festival -- the 15th day of the first month on the lunar calendar.
Group passengers who apply in advance will be allowed to travel free between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the first two weeks of the one-month trial period, he said.
In the last two weeks of the trial period, travel will be free for all individual passengers on the line, which will run between Taipei and the airport, Cheng said.
The system will impose capacity controls during the period, with a maximum of 10,000 passengers allowed to travel each day, he said.
Passengers are also reminded that there will be no early check-in services available during the trial runs at the MRT Taipei Main Station.
After the one-month trial, commercial operations will start, with a 50 percent discount on all trips during the first month, he said.
"The system will make airport traffic much smoother and will connect Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan, as well as attracting investment," Cheng said in a press conference, adding that more details about the trial runs will be disclosed next week.
Showcasing MRT merchandise and a brochure that will be available in Mandarin Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean, Cheng also said that the trains will be user-friendly for those traveling with digital devices, with free WiFi and wireless charging services in all the carriages, he said.
The 51.03-kilometer line, which took 12 years to complete, will serve more than 20 stations from Taipei to Taoyuan, including 14 from Taipei Main Station to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
It will take about 36 minutes to travel between Taipei Main Station and the airport, according to the Taoyuan Metro Corp.
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)