Taiwan High Speed Rail (abbreviated to THSR or HSR) is a high-speed rail line that runs approximately 345 km (214 mi) along the west coast of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the national capital of Taipei to the southern city of Kaohsiung. With construction managed by a private company, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), which also operates the line, the total cost of the project was US$18 billion. At the time it was built this was one of the world's largest privately-funded rail construction schemes.For most of its length the line runs on viaducts or through tunnels with technology mainly based on Japan's Shinkansen system mixed with European standards and system components. The THSR 700T train series is a variant of the 700 Series Shinkansen and was built by a consortium of Japanese rolling stock manufacturers.
Services began on January 5, 2007, using trains with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), which offer journey times from Taipei to Kaohsiung as short as 96 minutes. In comparison, trains operating on the conventional Western Line of the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), take over four hours for the same journey. Tickets are more expensive than on normal trains or express buses, but cheaper than those for airplanes. Most intermediate stations on the line lie outside the cities served, with rapid transit connections constructed only after the opening of the line. Ridership initially fell short of forecasts, but grew from fewer than 40,000 passengers a day in the first few months to over 100,000 passengers a day in 2010. Once THSR began operations, almost all passengers switched from airlines flying parallel routes, while road traffic was also impacted. The system has carried over 120 million passengers since its opening.
Construction of the system took more than 2,000 professional engineers from 20 countries and over 20,000 foreign and domestic workers six years to complete. Construction work was broken into several specialized lots that were contracted separately. One group of contracts was for civil works, covering the construction of the superstructure of open line sections. Stations and depots were the subject of separate groups of construction lots. A fourth group of lots was for trackwork.