TAIWAN High Speed Rail (THSR) has announced it anticipates concluding a Yen 124bn ($US 935m) contract with a consortium of Hitachi and Toshiba to purchase 12 Shinkansen high-speed trains - after several years of protracted negotiations over the deal.

The purchase was originally planned to be concluded in 2019, when THSR was anticipating an increase in passenger numbers. However, THSR was concerned that the cost being quoted for the 16-car trains was higher than it would have been for a Japanese domestic purchaser. The Hitachi Toshiba Supreme Consortium (HTSC) said this price difference was due to the modifications required for the trains to meet Taiwan’s specifications.

THSR has now agreed to accept the higher cost after taking into consideration factors including safety, technology and operation of the new trains.

A THSR 700T Shinkansen train at Hsinchu station. Photo credit: Jiang/Wikipedia Commons

In 2007 THSR became the first non-Japanese rail operator to adopt the Shinkansen after originally considering European technology. THSR currently operates 700T Shinkansen trains based on Japan’s 700 series on its 350km high-speed line running from the capital, Taipei, to the southern city of Kaohsiung.

The new Shinkansen trains expected to arrive in Taiwan following conclusion of the new contract with HTSC will be of the N700S series, incorporating tilting capability. This type has been operated by JR Central and JR West on the Tokaido and Sanyo high-speed lines since 2020 and by JR Kyushu on the Nishi Kyushu line since 2022.

An N700S series Shinkansen operating in Japan. Photo credit: MaedaAkihiko/Wikipedia Commons

The trains for THSR will incorporate advanced features including refinements to the automatic train control and braking systems to enable shorter stopping distances. The underfloor equipment layout allows the same standard design to be used for different coach configurations, facilitating export of the rolling stock from Japan to Taiwan.

Since July 2015, when a new structure for Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) came into effect, Taiwan’s government has been the majority shareholder in the privately-managed company, and also retains overall control of the board.

In October 2020, following approval by the Taiwanese Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), the route was finalised for a 56.4km extension of the THSR network from Taipei to the northeastern coastal city of Yilan. The project includes construction of around 11.4km of tunnels and completion is expected in 2030.

For detailed data on fleet orders and high-speed projects from Asia and around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.