Taipei-The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) held a groundbreaking ceremony in Kaohsiung Tuesday for construction of a national railway technology research and certification center with a planned budget of NT$4.2 billion (US$137.46 million).
Transportation minister Lin Chia-lung (???) said at the ceremony that the new institution, which the MOTC has said will serve as a "technology aide" in its development of Taiwan's rail industry, is expected to begin operations by 2023 at the earliest.
The Railway Technology Research and Certification Center is "the last piece of the puzzle" in efforts to promote the rail industry, said Lin, who has been seeking self-sufficiency and localization in the manufacture of rail-related products and the development of relevant technologies since he assumed office in January.
Describing Taiwan as "a country of railways," Lin said rail transportation has existed on the island for 100 years and has a deep and comprehensive influence on the lives of people in Taiwan.
Currently, more than 3 million people commute via rail every day in Taiwan, including at least 2.3 million who use the mass rapid transit systems in Greater Taipei and Kaohsiung, he said.
Lin estimated that the number of rail passengers will double to 6 million per day in 10 years, with the potential to expand to 10 million per day in the future.
In Taiwan, a small island with a high population density, "rail transport definitely plays a crucial role," the minister said, adding that the government plans to spend NT$2 trillion in railway construction over the next decade.
In order to achieve this goal, Taiwan must develop its own rail industry rather than relying on foreign technology and products, Lin said.
He elaborated that the center will conduct research in rail transportation system technologies and introduce independent testing and certification techniques, which it is hoped will help integrate Taiwan's rail safety standards and improve the nation's industrial research and development capabilities in the sector.
The planned center will be built on a 10-hectare plot of land next to the Yanchao Depot of the high-speed rail line, with the first stage of construction expected to be completed by the end of next year, according to the MOTC's Railway Bureau.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel