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Taiwan's vast and comprehensive network of highways and freeways has greatly reduced travelling time on the island.

Taiwan has a fully integrated transportation network of railways, harbors and shipping lanes, civil aviation, freeways and highways, and rapid transit.


Taiwan has a modern railway system that provides frequent and convenient passenger service between all major cities on the island. As of December 2002, Taiwans railway network had a total of 1,097 kilometers of track. Public railways in Taiwan are operated by the Taiwan Railway Administration 臺灣鐵路管理局. In 2002, a total of 175.34 million passengers and 12.15 million tons of freight (0.99 billion ton-kilometers) were transported on Taiwan’s railway system.

To help alleviate heavy traffic congestion on Taiwan’s highways, the ROC government has initiated plans for a high-speed railway (HSR). The Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail 高速鐵路工程局 under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) 交通部is responsible for implementing this project, whose overall cost is projected to be around US$13.1 billion. The planned 345-kilometer HSR route will pass through the western corridor of the island and stop at only ten stations: Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. Once completed, the HSR will reduce travel time between northern and southern Taiwan to around 90 minutes, compared to the current 4.5 hours required for the existing train or highway systems.

Harbors and Shipping

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In Taiwan, roads are not just built to connect people with places, but also for aesthetic purposes.

Taiwan’s six international harbors are located in Keelung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Anping, Taichung, and Suao. In 2002, Kaohsiung harbor was the fifth largest harbor in the world in terms of the volume of container cargo processed. Maritime imports and exports handled by Taiwan’s ports totaled 247 million metric tons in 2002.

Ocean shipping is vital to the trade-oriented economy of Taiwan. As of December 2002, Taiwan had a fleet of 241 vessels over 300 gross tons for a total of 4.3 million gross tons or 6.82 million dead weight tons. Taiwan’s fleet of cargo container ships is one of the largest in the world. As of mid-2003, Evergreen Marine Corporation 長榮海運公司 was the third largest container carrier in the world.

Civil Aviation

Taiwan currently has two international airports: Chiang Kai-shek International Airport 中正國際機場 in the north and Kaohsiung International Airport 高雄國際機場 in the south. Both airports are presently in the process of being expanding. Taiwan also has 15 local airports providing facilities for domestic flights.

As of mid-2003, a total of 41 airlines, including code-share airlines, were providing flight services to destinations in Taiwan. Of these airlines, 35 foreign carriers and six Taiwan-based airlines (China Airlines, EVA Airways Corporation, Mandarin Airlines, Far Eastern Air Transport Corporation, Transasia Airways, and UNI Airways) are operating scheduled international air services to and from Taiwan. Six companies, including two helicopter operators, offer domestic passenger flight services.

The total number of flights in Taiwan was reduced from 561,910 in 2001 to 548,555 in 2002. The total number of passengers, including international and domestic passengers, decreased 4.1 percent from 46 million in 2001 to 44.19 million in 2002. The amount of air cargo increased 15.5 percent from 1.27 million tons in 2001 to 1.47 million tons in 2002.

Highways and Freeways

Although the number of highway passengers declined 3.4 percent and cargo decreased 3.6 percent in 2002 from 2001, major highways in Taiwan were still often congested, especially on weekends and holidays. In 2002, there were 17.91 million motor vehicles in Taiwan.

Traffic on the north-south Sun Yat-sen Freeway 中山高速公路 has increased dramatically since its opening in 1978, especially on its northern section. Statistics show that the road handles more than 70 percent of the traffic between Keelung and Hsinchu. Thus, to alleviate some of this heavy traffic, the Second Northern Freeway 北部第二高速公路 was constructed, beginning in Keelung and connecting with the North-South Freeway near Taipei and Hsinchu. The 106-kilometer section between Hsinchu and Sijhih of this new 117-kilometer freeway was opened to traffic in 1997, and the entire line was completed in 1999. Other measures taken to lighten congestion on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway include the adding of an additional lane to each side of the heavily used 111-kilometer stretch from Hsinchu to Yuanlin, and the widening of the section in southern Taiwan between Yuanlin and Kaohsiung in 1997.

Construction of the Taipei-Yilan Freeway 北宜高速公路, which starts in Nangang with a tunnel to Yilan, commenced in July 1991 and is scheduled for completion in 2005. In addition, an elevated east-west expressway in Taipei was completed in June 1998.

Rapid Transit

Preparations for the Taipei Rapid Transit System (TRTS) began in early 1986. By 2000, all five lines of the TRTS had been completed. The Mucha Line began revenue service on March 28, 1996; the Tamsui Line started operations in 1997; the Chungho line in 1998; the entire Hsintien Line and the Nankang Line from Hsimen Station to Lungshan Temple in 1999; and the Panchiao Line from Lungshan Temple to Hsinpu Station in September 2000. Extensions to the original TRTS network are currently underway.

The Kaohsiung Metropolitan Area Mass Rapid Transit System Development Plan (First Term) 高雄都會區大眾捷運系統第一期發展計畫 developed by the Kaohsiung City Government was approved by the Executive Yuan in January 1994, and construction of the system, which follows the Build-Operate-Transfer approach, began in October 2001. The system is expected to have its first test run in December 2004, and full operations of its Red and Orange lines are scheduled to start in October 2007.

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