TAIPEI, Taiwan - A rapid transit system linking Taipei with Taiwan's main airport ran its first test ride open to the public yesterday afternoon.
The Taoyuan International Airport MRT is nearing completion and is on track to become operational by year's end, said Transportation Minister Chen Chien-yu.
Once operational, the trains will run every 10 minutes during rush hour and take passengers from Taipei Main Station to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in 35 minutes.
Members of the public, national press, village wardens, state officials and lawmakers from the Legislature's Transportation Committee previewed the service yesterday afternoon.
Government officials boarded the train at New Taipei Industrial Park and disembarked at Airport Terminal 2 during a 29-minute inspection tour.
Public passengers embarked at the other end of the line in Greater Taoyuan for a 10-minute trip overlooking farmland, a developing outlet mall and the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium.
Lawmakers said they were satisfied with the trial run. Democratic Progressive Party Yeh Yi-jin said the train offered a smooth ride while traveling at 90 kilometers per hour.
Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan said the train was "somewhat unstable" while headed uphill, but that the trip was stable overall.
The system does have design errors, such as a too-wide platform gap, insufficient wheelchair seating and a computer interface that has not been switched from simplified Chinese to traditional characters.
"But in general, I give it 80 points," she said.
Several lawmakers said the system's luggage capacity is insufficient.
At full capacity, each train can carry 855 passengers and 5,200 kilograms of luggage, or roughly 260 large pieces, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The transportation minister, who boarded the 29-minute test ride, said the system needs to be perfected but is on track to begin operations on time in December.
As of March, the system is 95.75 per cent complete, according to the Transportation Ministry.
Chao Le-chun, director of Mass Rapid Transit Engineering Office at the Bureau of High Speed Rail, said the line's signaling system and electrical systems still need to undergo testing before opening day.
Once completed, the Taoyuan International Airport MRT will offer two types of service - express and local - at the same fare.
Trains will be equipped with individual reading lights for passengers and displays of real-time flight data.
In addition, a terminus at Taipei Main Station will allow passengers to check in and pick up their boarding passes before embarking toward the airport.