The first section of the Taipei MRT circular line is scheduled to start operations by the end of the year, the New Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems said on Friday.

The 15.4km line, comprising 14 stations, would reduce travel time by connecting Dapinglin (大坪林) to the New Taipei Industrial Park in New Taipei City via Sindian (新店), Jhonghe (中和), Banciao (板橋) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts, without passing through Taipei.

The department on Friday held an on-site inspection of the line, known as the Yellow Line, to check whether efforts to reduce screeching noises produced by trains negotiating a turn on the line have been successful.

A 3,148m noise barrier and rail lubrication have brought the sound level down, department head Lee Cheng-an (李政安) said.

The inspection included a fire drill as a train traveled from the unopened Shisizhang (十四張) Station to Dapinglin Station, Lee said.

He added that his department and Taipei Rapid Transit Corp would report any recommended improvements to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications before a second inspection at the end of next month.

The department aims to finish all of the preparatory work on the line by the middle of December, Lee said.

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) is to pick a date for the line’s opening ceremony, at which Hou and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) are to officiate, the department said.

The central government contributed part of the NT$69.9 billion (US$2.28 billion) needed to complete the line’s first section.

The circular line’s first section is called the Jhong Huan Section (中環, central circle), while the other sections are the Nan Huan Section (南環, south circle), the Bei Huan Section (北環, north circle) and the Dong Huan Section (東環, east circle). Construction on the last three sections has yet to begin.