Taiwan high-speed rail system to debut

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- International' started by ozzy, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    Jun 25, 2006
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    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's long-delayed high-speed rail system geared up Thursday to welcome its first paying passengers amid lingering safety concerns and embarrassing ticketing glitches.
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    The $15 billion system, which begins limited service Friday, will cut rail travel time between Taipei and the southern city of Kaohsiung from four hours to 90 minutes.
    First conceived of more than 20 years ago, it represents a colossal effort to improve transportation for Taiwan's 23 million people, while saving energy and preserving the environment.
    But in the final countdown to launch, the problems that have dogged it for more than a decade were still apparent.
    Half-price tickets for the limited service period, which is expected to last at least 10 days, went on sale Tuesday amid widespread technical glitches.
    Taiwanese cable TV stations showed angry ticket buyers complaining about being unable to use credit cards, or receiving the wrong change from ticket machines.
    Chairwoman Nita Ing of the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp., the operator of the new system, apologized for the setback.
    "We are not satisfied with the way things are going," she said. "But the situation will improve day by day."
    Construction of the system began in 2000 with an original launch date of October 2005, but a delay in the completion of the project's core electrical systems forced a postponement to October 2006.
    The service was further held up after the operator failed to obtain a safety certification from independent verification and validation firm Lloyd's Register. The certification was eventually obtained on Nov. 20.
    The company also canceled a Dec. 7 opening ceremony after the government said further tests were needed before it could launch. No new date for an official ceremony has been announced so far.
    When full service does begin, Taiwan's four domestic airlines are expected to be the main casualty, because the rail system will bring the vast majority of Taiwanese no further than a two-hour train ride from Taipei.