ICRT’s Weekly Central Taiwan News Report, Feb. 24–transcript

Hope for the MRT to resume trials

Throughout the Lunar New Year holiday tests on the Taichung Green Line continued, but without passengers.
In the place of passengers, one of each of the two-carriage trains was assigned to carry 1,080 sandbags, each weighing 30 kilograms, to replicate the train carrying a maximum capacity of 536 passengers.
All of the couplings connecting the cars, which during the first period of live trials with passengers last November developed troubles, have all been replaced.
The Taipei Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS), their boss Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and the Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (TMRTC) have both signed off on the tests, paving the way for the resumption of passenger trials.
The issue is now in the hands of the Taichung City Government, which will be conducting and inspection meeting this week, raising hopes a timeline for the resumption could come soon.
Both Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen and the Taichung Transportation Bureau have expressed hopes on the Taichung Green Line restarting–but both have been vague in the timeline.
The Transportation Department has said that with spring they hope everything will go smoothly.
The mayor, however, has continued to emphasize that only if the line is deemed safe will the public be allowed back on.
Already the Taichung Green Line has taken the longest of any MRT line in Taiwan to be constructed.
When the line is again open to the public, many will no doubt be happy to know that there is something else to look forward to: Popstar Ah-mei will be featured in the first ads to be displayed in the stations.

Long awaiting dream in Changhua train elevation closer to reality

Changhua’s dreams of elevating the train line in Changhua and constructing new stations, which will open up many new development opportunities and transportation convenience have been long in the making.
In planning for 10 years, the last two years the National Development Council has refused to conduct feasibility study meetings–effectively putting the plan in stasis.
Finally, however the NDC has begun the first feasibility meeting, though demanding that the Changhua County government resubmit impact and development assessments on the land surrounding the elevated line, and increasing the amount of money the county would have to raise.
The county now has to rush to secure a further NT$2 billion in funding for the project.
If the project is completed, however, it would effectively extend the MRT-style elevated light rail line now running in Taichung into Changhua.
There are separate plans to extend Taichung’s actual MRT Green Line into the city as well.
Both would strengthen the ties between the regions, as Changhua has been more and more resembling a reasonably-priced suburb of Taichung.
In related news, to the north of downtown Taichung, the Fengyuan transportation transit center structure has been completed, and the entire project is expected to come online by the end of the year.
It will integrate the train station, buses and a big increase in parking space in Taichung’s second-largest downtown center.

Water concerns grow in central Taiwan

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the water shortage in Taiwan has worsened, necessitating further restrictions.
The rain in the early part of the Lunar New Year did little to alleviate the situation.
Worse, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) has forecast that Taiwan can expect normal or slightly lower than normal levels of rainfall in the coming two months, meaning that water shortages in central and southern Taiwan will likely persist.
Parts of Changhua, Yunlin and Nantou counties are to be put on yellow alert, which means water pressure reduced during off-peak hours, while the government conserves water by delaying landscaping irrigation and exterior washing of public facilities.
Taichung is already on orange alert, and Changhua City and Hemei Township have been added, and the level of the orange alert has been increased.
In practice this means the yellow alert measures, plus starting today industrial water use in Taichung and northern Changhua will be cut by 11 percent, up from 6 percent.
Both areas are in the industrial heartland of the country.

Taipower ups pressure on Taichung over LNG

State-owned Taipower, clearly growing frustrated with the Taichung City government has once again urged the Taichung City Government to approve new liquefied natural gas (LNG) generators and LNG terminal at the Taichung Power Plant to further the utility’s plan of phasing out its coal-fired generators.
This came city government demanded that Taipower decommission four coal-fired plants before constructing the LNG generators and the national legislature sped up the timeline on the phaseout of coal significantly.
Reportedly, Taipower’s plan to build an LNG terminal and two generators in Taichung has been rejected seven times by the city government.
A Taipower manager said that, while they are still in talks with the Taichung City government, “It is unreasonable for Taichung to ask for the old generators to be decommissioned before the new generators are built.”
He went on to say construction would take “at least three years” for the generators, and “longer” for the terminal, which would ensure a steady supply of LNG to the generators.
Asked if Taipower intends to decommission the coal plants once the LNG generators are built, the spokesperson said that they planned to keep the plants “on standby.”

City offers a unique novelty lantern solution

With the normal Lantern Festival put on ice due to the pandemic, Taichung only issued a limited edition Year of the Ox lantern this year.
The pink lanterns are complemented by golden ox horns, bells and coins in the design.
However, to ensure the whole city can enjoy the lanterns, the city has provided downloadable lantern components for the public to download and print–along with an online assembly instruction video.

Image courtesy of the Changhua City FB page

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