TAIWAN’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has held a groundbreaking ceremony at Taitung station to mark the start of work on a new line from Taitung to Jhihben.

Construction of the double-track electrified line forms part of the wider $NT 45.6bn ($US 1.48bn) project to upgrade Taiwan’s East Coast Line between Hualien and Taitung, in order to improve operational performance and provide more capacity for peak passenger flows.

According to the ministry’s Railway Bureau, doubling the single-track sections of the Hualien - Taitung - Kaohsiung route will cut the journey time between Hualien and Kaohsiung to 3 hours.

The project is due for completion in October 2027, when construction crews working from the north and the south are scheduled to meet at a location 112.6km south of Hualien station.

Up to eight passenger trains an hour are expected to operate on the upgraded line. Hitachi is supplying a new fleet of 50 12-car EMU3000 trains to Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to replace eight-car EMUs.

Deliveries of the new EMU3000 inter-city fleet are ongoing, with 16 due to be delivered this year and the remaining 12 in 2024. TRA has also recruited additional drivers for the new services.

According to Taiwan’s minister of transportation and communications, Mr Wang Kwo-tsai, completion of the East Coast track-doubling project and planned high-speed lines would enable passengers to travel right around the island of Taiwan in 6 hours.

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