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The rugged central mountainous terrain of Taiwan Island has restrained its population and socio-economical growth that make the economic activities developed mostly along the plains of the West Coast areas. For years, the increasing demands for North-South intercity transportation had attracted much attention from the Government to work out the best solution. An efficient high speed and mass transportation system is therefore greatly needed to meet the anticipated demand in the intercity and regional daily commuting and business trips. The idea of linking the north with the south by a high-speed rail service was first thought of as early as in the seventies. After many years of strategic and route analyses, the HSR alignment and station locations were finally determined in 1992 by the Executive Yuan.

The Taiwan North-South High Speed Rail Project was initially planned to build as a public sector project, bearing the full responsibilities of the government Due to the increased public fiscal burdens, the Legislative Yuan withdrew the budget allocated to the HSR Project and later Government decided to have the HSR Project built by a private sector venture with a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model. The Encouragement Statute stating the required rules and policies for the project was passed in December 1994. A tender invitation for Private Participation in construction and operation of Taiwan North-South High Speed Rail Project was thus made by the Government on October 29, 1996. With a construction value of US$ 18 billion, the HSR Project is undoubtedly the largest privately managed and funded BOT Project in the world at the time and perhaps even today.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Consortium was formed in November 1996 to bid for the HSR BOT Project and was selected the Best Applicant in September 1997. Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) was incorporated in May 1998 as the Concessionaire to build and operate the HSR service. In July 23, 1998, the agreements were signed between MOTC (representing the ROC Government) and the THSRC, which have granted THSRC a concession to finance, construct, and operate the High Speed Rail System for a period of 35 years and a concession for HSR station area development for a period of 50 years. The HSR will link Taipei to Kaohsiung at a total length of 345km with 90 minutes traveling time. During the first stage of the operation, eight stations of the high speed rail will be operated, namely, Taipei, Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung (Zuoying), and by 2010, four more stations will be open, i.e., Nangang, Miaoli, Changhua and Yunlin.

The "9/21" earthquake in 1999 had resulted in releasing the contracts of the civil works due to the concerns of the design and construction methods. In March 2000, the first contract of the civil works was awarded and began its construction in August of the same year. With the great employment opportunities generated from the civil construction works, station and depot developments, trackworks and E&M core system, THSRC do bring the significant benefits directly and indirectly to the local economy and also caused the enhancement in the quality and technology of project management.

The Roll-Out Ceremony for the Taiwan High Speed Rail 700T trainsets took place in January 2004 at Kobe, Japan. It was the first time that the Shinkansen was exported its system to the foreign country. A test run was jointly held by the Taiwan Shinkansen Corporation and THSRC at HSR Tainan Station in January 2005, it was heralding the coming age of the high speed rail service with the vision of enabling people of Taiwan to live in an "one-day peripheral circle".

By looking back at the history of the transportation developments in Taiwan, we realized that building any form of transportation system, regardless it is a harbor, railway or highway; which always have the immediate and long-term impacts on its regional development, an efficient and safe transportation would definitely change the habit, attitude and lifestyle of the society.

It is without saying that the benefits brought by the Taiwan High Speed Rail are a fast and convenient way of the trans-island travel linking north to south of Taiwan, and it also brings people together leading to an prosperous and fulfilled life.