New wells pose no bullet train safety threats: Water agency

Taipei-Newly drilled wells providing much needed water in central Taiwan amid a serious drought will not cause further ground subsidence that could threaten the safety of Taiwan’s bullet train line, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) said Sunday.

The newly drilled wells in Changhua and Yunlin counties are in areas that do not have ground subsidence problems, the WRA said in a statement in response to concerns raised by a newspaper Sunday that the wells could cause further subsidence along the bullet train route and threaten the line’s safety.

In a front page story, the Chinese-language United Daily News said subsidence in Yunlin’s Tuku Township increased from 1.2 centimeters between April 2019 and February 2020 to 2.8 cm from April 2020 to February 2021.

The deterioration has coincided with an ongoing drought that started last year because of an absence of tropical storms making landfall on Taiwan in 2020, the first time in 56 years.

The paper said the WRA’s decision to build wells across western Taiwan will only exacerbate the subsidence issue and cause problems for the bullet train’s tracks.

In response, the WRA said Sunday that building these wells are part of a short-term contingency measure to fight the drought, and that the government and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC), which runs the bullet train, have been closely monitoring ground subsidence issues along the high-speed rail line.

Ground subsidence has been particularly closely watched in Changhua and Yunlin, and the latest data has shown the pace of subsidence in those counties has slowed over the years, the WRA said.

THSRC said such subsidence remains within tolerable levels and that the railway’s structure and operations remained sound, according to the WRA.

WRA statistics show there are currently 160 newly drilled wells that can provide 340,000 cubic meters of water a day.

Meanwhile, THSRC said earlier this month that most of the subsidence problems reported near the bullet train’s Changhua and Yunlin sections manifest themselves uniformly over a large area, and do not affect the structural integrity of the high speed rail.

Only four spots in the Changhua and Yunlin sections have reported subsidence problems involving “differential settlement” — the rate of uneven settling — which could affect railway operations, it said in a press release.

The four spots are: Xizhou Township in Changhua; Yunlin Station; Yunlin County Lane No. 158; and Provincial Expressway No. 78.

Over the past years the rate of subsidence is slowing down in all of the four spots, it said, though the WRA’s figures showed a decline from 2017 to 2019 but an increase in 2020.

It said it will continue to closely monitor these locations to safeguard rail safety.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel