Saturday, February 03, 2007

Understanding the High Speed Rail Stations

One of the most puzzling aspects of the high speed rail system is the placement of the stations far from the cities. At last month's Swenson's meet up, which I haven't had a chance to blog on yet, we finally received an answer, courtesy of a Taiwan land use expert's presentation.

What happened was this. Planning for the HSR began back in 1987. At that time economic growth was running high and people were flooding into the cities, which were hugely congested (this was also before the metro in Taipei as well). Planners envisioned the HSR as a system that would drive the development of smaller suburban satellite cities on the English New Town model. The stations were thus located far from the city centers in the hope that they would pull people out of the booming cities to become the focii of new development. The HSR company was then given the rights to lease the land around the stations, and collect revenues from station operations -- renting out retail space within the station, as the Japanese bullet trains do. Fast forward twenty years and Taiwan is completely different -- thus the HSR stations that appear to be wrongly located far from urban downtowns, solving a problem that no longer exists.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if that is entirely true Micheal. With my limited experience with the HSR Stations (The only station I've seen so far has been the Taoyuan station), I'd have to say that the entire area around the Taoyuan station is developing at a very high speed. While it may be far from Taoyuan or Zhong Li, it is quite convenient to get access to, and the amenities popping up around the station are creating an entirely new "town" if you will. I think it was a pretty ideally located station and excellent in terms of land use.

Roderick Taylor said...

thus the HSR stations that appear to be wrongly located far from urban downtowns, solving a problem that no longer exists.

I don't agree. I think the congestion problem still exists, especially outside of Taipei. Hsinchu and Tainan are my two examples, and station placement perfectly appropriate for places like this. Zhubei (竹北) is developing quickly coming along nicely and central Tainan certainly doesn't need more traffic.

It also makes it cheaper to build a project like this because you don't have to compensate people when you knock down their houses.

I think the what the definition of congested traffic is different depending on what it's like in your home town. My home town standards consider a 20 minute scooter as close.

Michael Turton said...

Have mercy. I'm just conveying someone else's explanation.


Anonymous said...


It might still work as intended by the original planners, when you think about the effect of the MRT lines on Taipei. The Tanshui line, in particular, really shifted the centre of gravity of northern Taipei from Tienmu to Peitou.