Monday, June 10, 2013

MRT Expansion Plans: The Wugu-Taishan Line

Proposed route of the Wugu-Taishan Line, from the New Taipei Dept. of Transportation website.  The Wugu-Taishan Line is red, the Airport Line is green, the Circular Line is yellow and the Luzhou Line is orange.

Recently plans were unveiled for a Luzhou-Wugu-Taishan light rail line, which would run roughly parallel to the western edge of the Taipei Basin to link Luzhou Station in the north to the Airport Line in the south.  It will parallel the Circular Line and serve built-up areas of Wugu that would otherwise be far from any MRT station even once other currently planned lines are completed.  The planned length is 7.98 km, with 8 stations, and some segments will be elevated.
According to the department's vice commissioner,  Chen Wenrui, light rail construction costs NT$200-300 million 2-3 billion, or US$6.6-10 66-100 million, per kilometer.
Although it's great that the outer reaches of the Taipei Basin are also slated to get rail, and I think for the most part this plan makes sense seeing as it uses probably the only road wide enough in the area to build a rail line, I do wonder about the southernmost section of the line (leftmost in the above map), where instead taking the shortest route to link with the Airport Line at stop A4 (Xinzhuang Fuduxin), the Wugu-Taishan Line swerves south to parallel it, only joining it at stop A5a (Furen University Hospital).  Meeting the Airport Line farther to the west means that anyone from Wugu headed towards Taipei Main is going to have a longer trip, possibly as much as 10 minutes longer judging from the map.  Furthermore, this stretch is already close enough to the Airport Line that it needlessly duplicates it, and residents of that area bound for Wugu or Luzhou could simply transfer at Xinzhuang Fuduxin without taking significantly more time.  If it did turn out that there is a need for a rail line along that route, a second line could be built that instead of joining the Wugu-Taishan Line would intersect it at station W5, then continue east and meet the Circular Line at Y19A.  This would provide the same coverage as the current plan but with better connections.

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