Consortium seals deal for Taiwan shinkansen

Contract marks first export of bullet train technology

A consortium of seven Japanese companies formally signed a contract worth about 330 billion yen Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo with Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. to build a bullet train line in Taiwan, THSRC said.

The arrangement between THSRC and Taiwan Shinkansen Corp. marks the first time Japan’s bullet train system has been exported.

TSC consists of Toshiba Corp., Mitsui & Co., Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp., Sumitomo Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

About 80 percent of the equipment, systems and rolling stock for the line will be exported from Japan, with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation extending about 220 billion yen in loans for the project, industry sources said.

The consortium is also expected to formally accept a request to put up roughly 10 percent of THSRC’s capital, they said.

The Japanese beat a European group in October last year to win priority negotiation rights and signed a memorandum with THSRC in June on the sale of the system, which will create a 345-km line between Taipei in the north of the island and Kaohsiung in the south.

But the signing has been delayed due to the time required by the Taiwan side to finalize the details of the contract.

The line, to be built at a cost of about 1.5 trillion yen, is scheduled to open in October 2005, reducing the Taipei-Kaohsiung run to about 90 minutes from the current four hours.

According to THSRC, the Japanese consortium will initially assist with train operations in cooperation with Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) and West Japan Railway Co.

“Some training sessions will be conducted in Japan on the Japanese shinkansen. The trainees will become instructors, and with the participation and supervision of TSC, these instructors will train other THSRC personnel,” the Taiwan company said.