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TAIWAN HIGH SPEED RAIL PROJECT - CONTRACT C270 'Optimally robust' would describe the structures designed by Faber Maunsell for a billion-dollar, 38km section of continuous viaduct on Taiwan's new 300km/h railway from Taipei to Kaohsiung. The overall project is the first build, operate and transfer scheme in Taiwan.

Faber Maunsell's 38km of viaduct for Contract C270 traverses a high-seismic zone, with peak ground accelerations predicted to be 0.66g, and the added engineering frisson that firm bedrock is generally more than 100m below the surface.

An additional concern is that the route crosses the flood plains of four rivers, including Taiwan's largest, the Choshue, where an additional allowance had to be made in the foundations for up to 11m of scour.

Earthquakes, which are likely to occur during the life of the railway, will cause soil liquefaction and amplification of ground motions. Any structure with shallow foundations would sink rapidly into the liquid soil. Any structure above the surface attached to deep foundations, such as the viaduct, would be subjected to violent horizontal oscillation.

Massive bearings, ties and shock absorbers connect the simply supported concrete box girders to the heavily reinforced concrete piers cast onto very deep piled foundations. The girders span up to 35m, weigh 800 tonnes and were launched into place as complete spans following manufacture in a specially built plant.

Provision has been made for intermediate stations at places where industrial and housing developments are planned.

The complete line is due to open this month (October) and the 345km overall journey is scheduled to take 90 minutes.

For projects outside the UK for which either the principal designer or the principal contractor is a UK-based British firm.

Sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers THE TEAM Client Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation Cost US$980 million (£554 million) Principal designer Faber Maunsell Contractor Bilfinger + Berger/CEC Joint Venture Other firms Macalloy (tie rods), Alga (prestressing, bearings & buffers)

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