• Kyodo

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The local consortium building Taiwan’s high-speed railway will sign an agreement Tuesday with a Japanese consortium to purchase Japanese bullet trains, ending more than five months of negotiations, a spokeswoman for Taiwan High Speed Rail Co. said Wednesday.

Corinna Fu, assistant manager of the company’s public relations department, said the signing ceremony will be held in Taipei. She refused to reveal the exact amount of the deal.

Japanese sources said a top executive of Mitsui & Co., leader of Japan’s Taiwan Shinkansen Consortium, will visit Taipei for the signing. No government representatives will attend.

The sources said the final purchasing contract, which is still being hammered out, is likely to be signed in Japan.

The United Daily News, a Chinese-language paper, reported that the Japanese consortium will take a 10 percent stake in the US$13 billion project.

The Japanese-made trains will run on a 345-km-long, high-speed railway that will be the first of its kind in Taiwan. The railway, which is being built along the island’s western coast, will link Taipei with the port city of Kaohsiung, in the south.

The Taiwan Shinkansen Consortium, which also includes Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Sumitomo Corp., Marubeni Corp. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., was awarded the project in December 1999 against a rival bid from the German-French Eurotrain consortium.

THSRC originally selected the Eurotrain consortium as its partner but later reopened the bidding process. The Eurotrain consortium has threatened to sue THSRC for compensation should it go through with its decision to buy the Japanese trains.

THSRC will operate the railway for 30 years before transferring it to the government.