The Sinsiugulan River Bridge in Hualien County, which was severely damaged by an earthquake on Sept. 18, is pictured yesterday ahead of its reopening today. Photo: CNA

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

A railway line connecting Hualien and Taitung counties is today to fully reopen after it was damaged by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake earlier this year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday.

The earthquake in Taitung County on Sept. 18 caused extensive damage along the Hualien-Taitung line, including railway tracks, platforms, and signaling and power systems.

The worst damage was reported in a section between Yuli and Fuli townships, where portions of the New Siuguluan River Bridge were displaced.

While railway service between Yuli and Fuli was suspended, the Directorate-General of Highways coordinated with bus operators to offer shuttle services between the stations, the agency said.

All damaged infrastructure was repaired as of yesterday, 80 days ahead of schedule, it said.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai and TRA Director-General Tu Wei yesterday morning conducted a final inspection of the section before it reopens this morning.

The agency for the first time employed a method called bridge jacking to realign and repair the New Siuguluan River Bridge, which greatly shortened the repair time, it said.

The technique involves incrementally lifting sections of the bridge to allow for repair or replacement of damaged parts, it said.

The Lele River Bridge, which was also damaged by the quake, was reinforced, Tu said.

The agency also fixed damaged facilities at the Dongli station in Fuli by installing a steel roof and elevating the platforms from 90cm to 110cm.

Restoring the damaged infrastructure cost about NT$300 million (US$9.77 million), Tu said.

Trains are temporarily required to operate at no more than 80kph when passing through the section, Wang said, adding that the speed limit would gradually be increased after the agency determines that trains can safely operate in the section.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES