Taipei, March 17 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has pledged to bring mass rapid transport (MRT) services to Keelung, a key marine transportation hub in northern Taiwan, linking Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung and Taoyuan with a single integrated metro system.
Tsai made the vow during a visit to Keelung Railway Station on Friday, where she received a briefing on a proposed tram project that aims to extend the Taipei MRT system to the port city with a tram line.
The project, which will cost the government more than NT$8 billion (US$261.35 million), "will be the largest infrastructure construction project in Keelung in 30 years," Tsai said.
"The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is determined to bring the MRT to Keelung," Tsai said during the meeting.
At the same time, the president said her administration will push to upgrade industry in Keelung and improve the city's job environment with a port city regeneration plan and a Keelung River valley urbanization program.
Given that the MRT system connects Taipei with Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Tsai said the new tram line will connect the port city directly to the nation's main international gateway once it is completed, linking Keelung with Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan.
Tsai was accompanied by Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) and DPP lawmaker Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), who represents a district in Keelung, while she listened to the closed-door briefing presented by officials from the Railway Reconstruction Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Although the briefing was not made public, Tsai Shih-ying told reporters after the meeting that the initial plan envisions a 19km tram line running from MRT Nangang Exhibition Hall Station to Keelung, using part of the existing railway currently operated by Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA).
Under the transportation ministry's plan, the Keelung tram system will use a European light rail system with the design of stations and tram carriages to be based on that of the Taipei MRT system, the lawmaker disclosed.
"Keelung Tram will have new stations and new tracks, though some of those will overlap with TRA's," he said.
(By Sunrise Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)