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In order to mitigate inter-city and urban traffic congestion and boost the usage of public transportation systems, government agencies in Taiwan have been actively promoting the development of rail systems for a long time. Because rail systems development faces serious constraints, however, the growth in rail transportation has been very slow. Major constraints include long planning and construction periods, tight budgets, and concerns about sustainability.
Through a literature review of rail transportation policies in various countries and an analysis of the trends in land use and rail systems development in Taiwan, this study recommends that Taiwan’s rail systems be developed to provide the following functions: (1) facilitate round-the-island and inter-city transportation, (2) connect international ports and airports with major cities, and (3) provide seamless transportation services in metropolitan areas.
It is anticipated that, with the aforementioned functionalities fully in place, the rail transportation systems in Taiwan should be able to achieve the following goals: (1) to become travelers’ first choice among various modes of transportation through the provision of superior transportation services, (2) to become the backbone of a seamless transportation network, (3) to intergrate rail transportation corridors with urban and rural area development plans and thus foster the formation of a better living environment, and (4) to serve as a foundation for developing a sustainable transportation system.
Toward these ends, this study carries out a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan’s state of rail transportation development, current plans for future development, and environmental constraints. It also proposes a blueprint of a rail transportation network and establishes key policies to guide future development. Future rail development should adhere to the following policy initiatives: (1) provide safe, reliable and efficient rail services, (2) develop seamless rail transportation, (3) enhance inter-city rail services, (4) lay a strong groundwork for metropolitan area rail services, (5) promote green transportation, and (6) improve institutional infrastructure.