Taiwan's High-Speed Rail: A Public-Private Partnership Hits a Speed Bump
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This case traces the evolution of Taiwan's high-speed railroad from project inception in the late 1980s until its financial problems in 2009 describing the planning efforts, ridership projections, financial plans, and cost-benefit analysis involved in the project, as well as the contracting process for the project. This project was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world and one of the largest infrastructure projects ever built, using a "public-private partnership" (PPP) - a method for infrastructure development where the private sector would build and operate a project for several decades and then transfer ownership to the government. However, in 2009, after only two years of operation, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), the private consortium responsible for building and operating the high-speed rail system, was in deep financial trouble due to low ridership and the worldwide economic crisis. Unable to pay back the principal on its bank loans, the president of THSRC requested a meeting with Taiwan's Minister of Transportation and Communications asking to hand the railroad over to the government to run. THSRC requested that compensation be set by an independent third party, as provided for in the event of a government takeover in the government's original contract with the company. Readers are left with the question of what Taiwan's Minister of Transportation and Communications should do in response to THSRC's request.
The case can be used in class discussions on the management of public-private partnerships, government procurement/contracting, and on decision-making.
- Case Author:
- Chung-Yuang Jan
- Faculty Lead:
- Steven Kelman
- Pages (incl. exhibits):