Japanese contractor to be penalized for sub-standard airport MRT

Taiwan will deduct over NT$700 million (US$25.08 million) from the NT$1.1 billion it still owes the Japanese contractor of the Taoyuan International Airport mass rapid transit (MRT) line because it failed to meet performance standards stipulated in the contract.

The Railway Bureau said Sunday the money will be withheld before it issues its final acceptance of the system as Tokyo-based Marubeni Corp. failed to meet contract requirements related to travel times, operating speeds and intervals between trains.

Railway Bureau Deputy Director Yang Cheng-chun (???) said Sunday that if Marubeni disagrees with the decision, it can appeal it.

The government signed a contract with Marubeni in January 2006 to build the system for about NT$25 billion. Construction began on Feb. 27, 2006 and was scheduled to be completed in 2010.

But repeated delays and technical obstacles pushed the line's launch back six times before it finally began operations in March 2017, though at speeds and intervals that fell short of the required standards.

Taiwan's Railway Bureau and Marubeni butted heads over the problems, and with the Japanese contractor unable to make improvements, the bureau tried to get other contractors to help, but no companies bid for the work in four different tenders, Yang said.

The Railway Bureau then turned to the Public Construction Commission (PCC) in February 2019 for mediation.

In late 2020, the PCC suggested that the bureau deduct around NT$726.93 million from its payment to the Japanese contractor before issuing its formal acceptance of the system.

Marubeni, however, contended it should not be held responsible for the system's shortcomings, and it did not reply by the deadline to the PCC's recommendation, voiding the mediation process.

According to the contract, it should take no more than 35 minutes by express train from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1 Station, but it actually takes from 35 minutes 47 seconds to 36:59 between the two stations, according to Yang.

The MRT line's express trains and ordinary trains were also required to reach 60 kilometers per hour and 45 kph, respectively, but the express trains only reach 56.46-58.31 kph and ordinary trains travel at a maximum 38.9-39.57 kph.

The interval between an express train and an ordinary train was supposed to be six minutes, but it is currently about 15 minutes, Yang said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel