A contract with the firm designing Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s third terminal might be canceled if it fails to deliver a constructable design within six months, Minister of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

Taiwan International Airport Corp (TIAC) has failed three times to attract contractors through public tenders, Lin said.

“The government has increased the budget for the project, but due to overdesign, the auction failed to attract bidders,” he said. “We are asking the consulting firm to change the design, which must not exceed the budget. We might terminate the contract if it fails to deliver a design that incorporates the changes.”

The ministry previously postponed the completion date for the third terminal to 2023.

When asked if it still aims for construction to be finished that year, Lin said that it depends on the design changes and how work proceeds.

The ministry hopes to address within the next six months the issues that led to the failed bids, he said.

The construction might start slowly, but it cannot begin until these changes are finalized, he said.

“If we find a good design and it is compatible with work that has already been done, we would follow the timeline that was set previously,” Lin said.

TIAC has been asked to temporarily halt peripheral projects for the terminal, which were also planned by the consulting firm, he said.

This decision was made to avoid problems that might occur if different interfaces need to be integrated, Lin said.

The Executive Yuan is concerned about progress on the project, he said, adding that the ministry and TIAC would review the auction process through a Cabinet-level ad hoc committee.

In other developments, the Railway Bureau is considering using a previously mooted corridor to build an extension to the high-speed rail system that would connect Yilan County to Nangang Station in Taipei, Lin said.

The corridor would bypass the catchment area of the Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫), which is the main source of water for Taipei and New Taipei City, he said.

“The route might be bit a longer, but travel times would be 15 minutes with a high-speed rail service between Taipei and Yilan,” he said.

“There are not many households that would need to be relocated for the project,” he said, adding that the new plan “could work, as it might be possible to do within the budget.”

The bureau this year began assessing the possibility of extending the high-speed rail from Nangang to Yilan. It evaluated two corridors, with the line to be operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration.

Environmentalists opposed the plan that passed through the Feitsui catchment, so the bureau looked at the other route and upgraded the plan to use high-speed rail.

It has also re-evaluated the possibility of extending the high-speed route from Zuoying Station (左營) in Kaohsiung to Pingtung.

The ministry has come to a crucial point, as it is aiming to complete around-the-nation high-speed rail and highway systems, which would further reduce differences between urban and rural areas, Lin said.

In terms of railways, the focus on the west coast is the high-speed system, he said.

An express rail service would be offered linking Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties, made possible by installing a dual-gauge system and electrifying the line, he said.