Greater Taipei MRT to encompass Keelung in network upgrade: officials
Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) A light rail system being planned for Keelung City is to be upgraded to connect the Greater Taipei mass rapid transit network in a major infrastructure development aimed at boosting regional connectivity, officials said Tuesday.
The plan means that a new MRT branch line linking Nangang in Taipei and Badu in Keelung via New Taipei will be able to handle higher passenger volume and will also be able to be controlled automatically, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said after reaching a consensus with the mayors of the two special municipalities and Keelung City.
The Taipei-Keelung line will be able to accommodate 10,000-15,000 passenger trips per hour instead of the 5,000 as originally planned for the light rail, explained Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌).
"The upgrading of the Keelung light rail system will be a big step forward for Keelung," Lin went on, adding that it is something that has been called for by local residents for the past 30 years.
The two officials, along with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), gave their first joint press conference on the issue, in which they outlined their vision for metro system development in the Greater Taipei area, with the aim to make the rail system more efficient in the region.
The new line will also provide Nangang with a further boost as a transportation hub, accommodating the services of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp., as well as the MRT's Bannan Line and the new Taipei-Keelung line, the officials said.
The Taipei-Keelung line will take the form of an underground railway where it merges with Nangang Station, according to Ko.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications will continue to push for its plan to extend the high speed rail from its current Nangang terminal to Yilan, which is expected to make travel between Taipei and Yilan possible in just 13 minutes, Lin Chia-lung said.
The bullet train system extension will help ease the passenger load on the TRA, particularly between Shulin Station in New Taipei and Cidu Station in Keelung, he added.
The Taipei-Keelung line will also join another Greater Taipei MRT line being planned for New Taipei's Xizhi District, he said.
The Taipei-Keelung line will share the same tracks as the Minsheng-Xizhi Line -- connecting Datong District in Taipei and Xizhi -- which could reduce road traffic congestion, according to the transport minister.
The plans for the expanded rail network will not affect the TRA's operations at Keelung Station, despite speculation that the station will be eliminated due to the project.
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