TAIWAN High Speed Rail (THSR) signed a contract worth Yen 124bn ($US 898m) in Tokyo on May 18 with the Hitachi Toshiba Supreme Consortium (HTSC) for the supply of 12 high-speed trains.

The THSR board had approved the award of the contract in March, following several years of protracted negotiations over the deal.

The contract was originally planned to be awarded in 2019, but THSR was concerned that the price being quoted for the new fleet was higher than it would have been for a domestic customer in Japan.

The difference in price was due to the modifications required to meet THSR specifications, according to HTSC.

The consortium will now supply a total of 144 cars, based on the latest N700S Shinkansen high-speed train in operation with Central Japan Railway (JR Central).

The N700S has been in service with JR Central since 2020. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Deliveries are due to start in 2026, with the new fleet entering service in 2027, according to THSR.

The new trains will be 300m long and will operate at up to 300km/h. Compared with the existing 700T Shinkansen fleet in operation between Taipei and Kaohsiung, the new trains will be lighter and have better aerodynamic performance.

The compact traction system featuring silicon carbide technology and blowerless cooling will offer greater energy efficiency. The new trains will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries to provide traction at low speed in the event of overhead power supply failures.

Onboard amenities will include LCD passenger information displays and a 110V charging socket at every seat.

The new fleet will enable THSR to increase passenger capacity to meet rising demand.

“Since high-speed rail was launched in Taiwan in 2007, total passenger volumes have exceeded 770 million,” says THSR chairman, Mr Chiang Yao-chung.

“Operations have recovered rapidly as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased. Last month, the daily average of passengers using the system was 207,000, an all-time high.”

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