“Asian Review 028” ― Taiwan part5
Take Taiwan Shinkansen to Taichung
The high-speed railway system is operating in Taiwan. Let’s take a ride in the high-speed train and go to Taichung.
This is the so-called “Taiwan version bullet train” to which Japanese railway companies (JR Tokai and JR West) has cooperated fully in the planning, the designing, the operation system, and etc. In fact, in the in-car announcements they call it the “Taiwan Shinkansen”. The vehicle is also the “700T type”, which is almost the same appearance as the 700 Series Shinkansen trains in Japan. It had officially launched in March 2007, connecting the 345-kilometer distance from Nangang station in Taipei to Zuoying station in Kaohsiung, with maximum speed of 300 km/h. By non-stop train, it takes only about 1 hour 30 minutes for the whole trip.
Once you get on the train, you will know that it is just like a Japanese Shinkansen. The one which stops at Itabashi, Hsinchu and each station reminding us of the “Kodama” trains. It is very convenient that every train has a luggage space where suitcases can be placed similarly to the Narita Express and etc. As there are an increasing number of inbound travelers recently, Japanese Shinkansen also need to provide such luggage spaces, doesn’t it? I think it is a considerable theme for JR as well as the security issue which is now in discussion.
It may also be the Japanese style that they are selling “Eki-ben (lunch box on the train)”. I couldn’t find them in the high-speed trains in the mainland China. The one I had bought was a simple Bento which has deep fried pork ribs and a seasoned boiled egg on the rice, but the taste was reasonable. Although there is no elaboration in coloring or arrangement like the Japanese Eki-ben, it made me think that Japanese are too used to luxury.
Although the Taiwan Shinkansen is already accepted by the Taiwan citizens in such condition, according to the Nikkei article on August 18, 2018, their achievement seems to not be so satisfying. It started operation in 2007 based on the estimation that the number of passengers per day will be about 240,000 in 2008, but in fact, the number was merely over 130,000 even in 2014. Therefore, as of the end of 2014, 46.6 billion cumulative loss of New Taiwan dollar (about 167 billion yen) occurred and the government was forced to invest 30 billion New Taiwan dollars additionally to rebuild the financial aspects.
In Mainland China, the National High-speed Rail Grid and the High-speed Intercity Railway are steadily enlarging the length of operation, and the punctuality of them seems to be considerably improved compared to the beginning. However, in emerging countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, which are aiming to build high-speed railway system in the near future, we often see reports that the construction plan is behind schedule and the profit is concerned. It is not so easy as it requires a huge investment.
From Taipei Station to Taichung Station, it usually takes 60minutes. However, it only takes 47 minutes if you take the fastest train. From the next post, lets explore Taichung City. Stay tuned!