Taiwan High Speed Railway
Taiwan's high speed railway is a 350km line that runs along the west coast of the country, capable of speeds up to 300km/h.
The railway was constructed, and is operated, by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), who first appointed our assessors in 2001 to provide independent assessments during the system's construction to ensure the functionality, quality, maintainability and safety met requirements.
Its opening in January 2007 saw journey times between the country's two main economic centres - Taipei and Kaohsiung - from four hours to a little over 90 minutes, with some services connecting eight other stations along the line.
The vast majority is built either upon viaducts or along tunnels, and is subjected to summer typhoons and frequent earthquakes. Despite this, the railway boasts a perfect safety record thanks to a sophisticated warning system that automatically reduces speeds, or brings trains to a halt, during major seismic events. It was also notable at the time for being the first international use of Japanese Shinkansen technology.
In 2012 we were chosen to perform similar services for a short four kilometer extension to Taipei City’s Nangang District, plus the construction of three new stations along the original route in the counties of Miaoli, Changhua and Yunlin.
We led the team that delivered the verification and validation work throughout the system's construction, overseeing the integration of all major sub-systems. The scope extended from initial concept design through to eventual operation, including assessments of the following areas:
- Modification of existing Traction Power System
- New Auto Transformer Post
- Signalling system upgrade
- New Station Control Room
- Modification of the existing Communications system
- Wayside E&M
- Construction of three new stations
During the project's peak stages, we had 30+ professional engineers based on site.
Our assessments - the first independent verification and validation of a railway in Taiwan - demonstrated to THSRC, the national railway authorities, and the travelling public that the new railway would be safe, reliable and built to the highest possible standards.
A key challenge, particularly for the 2012-2015 extension work, was the restricted time windows for possession and for the mixed traffic trial run demonstrations during normal revenue service. This required the team to work closely with key stakeholders to agree a flexible approach.
However, the team successfully achieved approval for operation from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of Taiwan and delivered the certificate for commencement of revenue service eight months in advance of the original schedule.
What is Independent Verification and Validation?
When constructing a new railway, it is best practice to identify high-risk areas at the earliest possible opportunity.
Independent Verification and Validation (IVV) does this by systematically confirming whether the new railway complies with the client’s requirements for Safety, Functionality, RAM and Quality.
- Verification activities assess whether the project team has built the railway correctly i.e. supporting the project owner to have the railway it’s specified.
- Validation activities track the overall project ensuring it is ultimately fit for purpose upon completion.
This requires a combination of deep railway systems expertise and comprehensive understanding of operational best practices.
The process involves audits and assessments that are used to gather evidence throughout the project lifecycle, and requires a combination of railway systems expertise and a deep understanding of operational best practices .
The activities follow a proven, structured process with a thoroughness that ensures all necessary checks are completed within the required timeframe. The entire exercise will culminate, if successful, with the issue of formal certification.