Tsung-Chung (TC) Kao


Dr. Tsung-Chung (T.C.) Kao is Visiting Professor and Scholar in the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also the Director of the Rail Technology Research Center in the Civil Engineering Department at National Taiwan University and an Adjunct Professor there. He is also the retired Vice President of Engineering for the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU) in1971 and then completed two M.S. degrees, one in Structural Engineering at Rutgers University in 1974, and a second in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1975. He completed his Ph.D. two years later, also in Geotechnical Engineering at Berkeley.

Following completion of his Ph.D. he worked as a Project Engineer for Woodward-Clyde in San Francisco from 1978 to 1983. While there he was also Visiting Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at San Jose State University from 1981 to 1983. He then returned to Taiwan where he was Vice President Geotechnical Engineering at Moh & Associates from 1983 to 1987, then CEO of the Eastern Group in Taiwan from 1993 to 1997, and then President of the Eastern Construction Corporation from 1995 to 1997. During this stage of his career he worked on a broad range of civil and infrastructure projects including planning, coordination, design and construction of transit, high-speed rail, airport and harbor facility projects.

He worked extensively with the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) Project beginning with its inception in 1990. When the THSR Project was privatized in 1997 he was appointed Vice President of Project Management and was responsible for design, construction and operation, including management of the project cost, interface and configuration. During the testing and commissioning in 2007, he served as the operation preparation task leader supporting the commissioning of the railroad. Since his retirement from THSR Corporation in April 2008, Dr. Kao has taught classes on "High Speed Rail Engineering", "Integration Project Management" and "Contract Management in Practice" at NTU and UIUC. Dr. Kao is a registered Civil Engineer in the State of California and in Taiwan.



High-speed rail (HSR) operation was inaugurated in Japan in 1964. Since then Japan has continued to expand its HSR network and three other Asian countries have joined the high-speed club: Korea, Taiwan, and China. These four high-speed countries each developed their HSR systems using different approaches. Japan developed their HSR system initially based on years of experience in upgrading the speed of their conventional railways followed by development of numerous innovative new high-speed rail concepts. Korea took a different route in which they initially used technology transfer from France, and subsequently began development of their own high-speed technology. Taiwan imported their HSR technology from Japan so their emphasis has been on the operation and maintenance of the system, rather than technology development. China, backed by their strong rail industry, initially tried to develop their own high-speed rail industry; but after two unsuccessful attempts, chose to import German, French and Japanese technology. They have learned from and adapted this technology and are ell on their way to developing the largest high-speed rail system in the world.

The strategies each of these four countries undertook to develop their high-speed rail industry are a good reference for future development of high-speed rail elsewhere. The technical lessons learned will be beneficial to the planning, design and construction in North America and these topics this will be the subject of this presentation.

High-Speed Rail Experience in Asia: A Comparative Assessment

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