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Taiwan Railways Administration's iconic blue trains back in service

Vintage locomotives are blast from past for travelers nostalgic for 1960s rail travel

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Interior of vintage "blue-painted" train. 

Interior of vintage "blue-painted" train.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) vintage "blue-painted" trains resumed operations Saturday (Oct. 23).

Nicknamed the “anxiety-relief" blue trains, they were retired after the complete electrification of Taiwan’s railroads in December. However, they have been brought back exclusively for tourism purposes, giving travelers nostalgic for old-school rail travel a chance to briefly go back in time.

The trains will run on a route connecting Pingtung and Taitung that boasts picturesque coastal views of both the Bashi Channel and the Pacific Ocean, according to Lion Travel, the travel agency commissioned to operate the service. The 1960s-era locomotives do not have air conditioning and are only equipped with electric fans and manual windows.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and his wife boarded the diesel train at Fangliao Station and headed towards Fangshan Station, also located in Pingtung County. Su joked that he was taking his wife to Taitung for their honeymoon.

The couple was accompanied by Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Meng-an (潘孟安), and several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT) legislators. Along the way, Lion Travel tour guides dressed in high school uniforms provided commentary for each scenic spot and explained the history of the blue trains and what modifications were made to them.

Su said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people cannot go abroad. These rail travel packages show how special and unique domestic tourism is.

Su added that he was grateful to the Ministry of Communications, TRA, and Lion Travel for bringing back and promoting the iconic trains.