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Ma sorry for Hualien-Taitung rail project delay

TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou apologized to Taitung residents Saturday for the delay of an electrified railway line project between Hualien and Taitung, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.

During an inspection tour of the project, the president noted that while electrified railway lines were established in western Taiwan 30 years ago, there is no such service in the eastern part of the country.

This is unfair to Taitung residents, Ma said, apologizing for what he said was the government's lack of priority regarding the development of electrified rail service in the eastern counties of Taitung and Hualien.

He said that while travel times between Taiwan and China have shortened since the launch of direct cross-strait flights, Taitung residents still do not have the convenience of speedy travel to other areas of Taiwan because of the railway issue.

However, this problem will be resolved after work on the electrification of the Hualien-Taitung railway line is completed, Ma said.

The project was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of 2013 but was delayed due to typhoons and late delivery of construction materials from abroad.

Transportation and Communications Minister Yeh Kuang-shih, who accompanied Ma on the inspection tour, said that when the project is completed, it will allow quicker travel between the two eastern counties and increase the passenger capacity on the line.

Yeh also pledged that the electrification project will be completed by the end of June.

The South-Link Line, the only one in Taiwan left to be electrified, will complete the electrified railway loop around the country, he added.

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