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Railway electrification in east 'will boost tourism'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The railway electrification of the Hualien and Taitung line will be officially finished and in operation on July 1 and is expected to bring over nine million tourists to visit Taiwan this year, chief of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday.

Yeh said that this newly finished railway project will create about NT$20 million in profits for the residents of Eastern Taiwan.

According to Yeh, the railway electrification, which is the most crucial project in Eastern Taiwan, was finished nine months earlier than the scheduled date, and the amount of carbon reduction resulting from the project equals 28 Daan Forest Parks.

“The railway electrification will also save 17 to 18 percent in energy costs,” said Yeh.

According to Yeh, the train stations along the railway line will attract more people to the local bed and breakfasts and tourist spots that will create about NT$20 million in profits for local residents.

“The train tickets for the newly finished lines of railway electrification will kick off on July 1, and I proposed to give out 20-percent discounts for passengers, but the proposal will have to be approved by the MOTC,” said Yeh.

According to Yeh, many tourists are attracted by the amazing views in Hualien and Taitung, and he believes that with the railway electrification project finished, more people can travel to the beautiful eastern region of Taiwan easily.

Based on statistics provided by the MOTC, over 8 million tourists visited Taiwan last year, and the majority of them were from mainland China, and Yeh said that the Tourism Bureau will work on attracting more tourists from other countries to visit Taiwan this year.

Heavy-duty Motorcyclists Fight for Freeway Rights

A group of heavy-duty motorcyclists yesterday protested in front of the MOTC hall to fight for their rights to ride on the freeways.

Chen Li-yun (陳豊運), chairperson of a national heavy duty motorcycle management trade association, said that the MOTC should carry out the resolution passed by the legislature in 2011 to conduct trial sessions for heavy duty motorcycles to run on certain sections of freeways in a certain time period.

However, Chen said, the MOTC has yet to announce the sessions for motorcyclists.

The MOTC said that the reason why the sessions have not been announced was that most local governments were still considering carrying out the policy, and many people were also worried about the safety of allowing heavy-duty motorcycles on freeways.

According to the MOTC, another meeting will be held to settle this matter and representatives from local governments and the national heavy duty motorcycle management trade association will be invited to the meeting.

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