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June 29, 2017

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Rail bureau chief resigns over delay to airport MRT opening

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Bureau of High Speed Rail (BHSR) Director-General Chu Shu (朱旭) tendered his resignation yesterday to take responsibility for the delayed opening of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line.

Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) head Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) has approved the resignation and assigned Deputy BHSR Director Hu Hsiang-lin to fill the position until a permanent replacement is found.

Chu's exit comes after the opening of the airport MRT, originally scheduled for October this year, was postponed to the end of 2015. Chu further said that he could not guarantee that the opening date would not be rescheduled again.

Transportation chief Yeh conceded that it will be a challenge to open the airport MRT by next year, but expressed confidence that the project will be finished.

Chu said that a dispute between the project's major contractor and some minor contractors regarding the project contract was the main cause of the delay.

"Last October's replacement of faulty wires in all of the line's traffic lights also caused the entire MRT project to fall behind schedule," said Chu.

The line, which links Zhongli City in Taoyuan County and Sanchong District in New Taipei, is the first stage of the airport MRT project, and is scheduled to be opened by the end of 2015, according to the major contractor's new timeline.

The completion date of the second stage of the project, which will connect Taipei and Sanchong District, will be determined after the BHSR checks with the major contractor on the project's progress.

"Unless the major contractor can provide evidence to prove that it is not responsible for the delay, the BHSR can fine the contractor NT$12.5 million a day from the originally scheduled opening date," Chu said.

He added that the BHSR will consider terminating the contract if the project progress falls behind the contractor's new schedule.

The Taoyuan airport MRT, construction on which started in 2006, is a rapid transit system that will link Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. After work on the initial stage is completed, further links will be made to connect with a Taoyuan City MRT stop and with the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station.

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