Taiwan high-speed rail operator to buy new trains from Japan

The operator of Taiwan's high-speed railway service plans to buy new trains from Japanese companies.

The board of Taiwan High Speed Rail decided on Wednesday to procure trains from a Japanese alliance of Hitachi and Toshiba.

The two sides are expected to sign a formal contract in the near future.

The Taiwanese firm will spend about 930 million dollars for 12 trains that have a total of 144 cars. The vehicles will be made based on Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains. The first of the new trains will be put into operation as early as 2027.

Taiwan's high-speed railway service linking Taipei and Kaohsiung opened in 2007. It was the first overseas use of Japan's Shinkansen technologies. All of the high-speed trains in operation there were made by Japanese manufacturers.

In December, the Taiwanese operator granted preferential negotiation rights to the Hitachi-Toshiba alliance in introducing new trains to boost transport capacity.

Earlier, the first two rounds of bidding had ended in failure due to differences over price. In the third round, the Taiwanese firm had indicated that it would not necessarily stick to procurement from Japan.

Japan placed importance on the project as a symbol of its friendly ties with Taiwan. Japanese lawmakers talked it up while visiting Taiwan last year in a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. The government sent a senior transport ministry official to Taiwan in connection with the project.