TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Alishan Forest Railway in Chiayi County of central Taiwan announced that it will be forming a new sister railway relationship with a railway line in the European country of Slovakia.
Ahead of its 106th anniversary of operations later this month, the iconic Alishan Forest Railway will sign a letter of intent on Dec. 5 marking its newest sister railway relationship with the 120 year old Cierny Hron Railway in Slovakia.
Planning and construction of the Cierny Hron Railway began in 1898, and it began operations in 1909 transporting lumber. It eventually opened for passenger transport between Čierny Balog and Hronec from 1927 to 1962 in what was then Czechoslovakia, before it returned to being only an industrial transport line.
In 1982 the Cierny Hron forest line was closed, but it was re-opened in 1982 as a heritage railway. The line’s total length runs 130 km, but the area designated as a heritage line for tourists to visit is 17 km long, and is open to visitors from May 1 to Sept. 30 every year, reports CNA.
The Cierny Hron line is believed to be the only railway in the world that runs through a football stadium.
(Image from Google Images)
Both Alishan railway and the Cierny Hron share the characteristics of being narrow gauge trains running through heavily wooded mountain terrain.
Despite both using diesel engines these days, both were originally steam operated and still occasionally run their steam locomotive engines, which have been kept in good condition.
The relationship with the Cierny Hron Froest Railway marks the Alishan Railway’s ninth sister railway, and the fifth country in which it has a sister railway agreement.
The others include the Oigawa Railway and the Kurobe Gorge Railway in Japan; the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and Gornergrat Bahn railways in Switzerland; the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Kalka Shimla Railway in India; and the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in England.
According to CNA, a Slovakian delegation visited Taiwan in 2016 and was very impressed with the excellent manner in which the Alishan Forest Railway had been preserved. That trip sparked discussions that led to a joint photo exhibition at the Bratislava Railway Museum last year, which laid the groundwork for the current sister railway agreement.
The Alishan Forest Railway dates back to 1912, when it was constructed by the Japanese Colonial Government to assist in logging. Now it is celebrating its 106th year, and has become an important cultural symbol, and a fantastic tourist attraction in central Taiwan.
Alishan Forest Railway (CNA Image)