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Taiwan president announces Keelung-Taipei tram-train link

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The government will invest NT$8.1 billion (US$264 million) to build a tram-train link between Keelung and the Taipei City District of Nangang which should be ready in 2022, President Tsai Ing-wen announced Friday.

The bustling harbor city of Keelung on Taiwan’s north coast already has a traditional rail connection with the capital, but residents have been clamoring for a link to Taipei’s prestigious Mass Rapid Transit subway system.

During a visit to the town’s railway station Friday, Tsai announced her government would invest in a combined tram-train link between Keelung and Taipei.

Since the track width would be 1067 millimeters, traditional railway trains would also be able to use the system, reports said.

Tsai said the transportation link would be Keelung’s biggest public construction project in 30 years. She mentioned how previous governments had been unable to respond to decades of demands by residents of the port town for a faster and more efficient means of public transport link with the capital.

The central government would cooperate with the Keelung City Government, led by her fellow Democratic Progressive Party member Mayor Lin Yu-chang, to complete the project, most likely in 2022, she was quoted as saying.

Each European-made tram would carry a maximum of 500 passengers at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour, reports said.

At the Taipei end, the trams would stop near the Nangang Expo, where passengers could transfer to the MRT system or to the high-speed rail line to Kaohsiung.

In Taiwan, only the second city of Kaohsiung already has a light rail line, while a system is under construction in the north coast district of Tamshui, New Taipei City, a popular destination for tourists.

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