TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The southern section of Taiwan’s railway system, connecting Pingtung to Taitung, has finished the electrification process and will open to the public on Wednesday (Dec. 23).
Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) boarded a train departing from Pingtung at 7:33 a.m. Sunday morning (Dec. 20), ringing a bell to signify the commencement of operations. Lin said the southern segment of the railroad was the last step to electrify Taiwan’s railway network.
On Wednesday morning, Lin and Pingtung County officials will preside over the inaugural ceremony at Pingtung Railway Station. According to Lin, after the electrification of the southbound railway, the Puyuma Express, Taroko Express, and Taiwan’s new EMU900 trains can pass through.
The minister said Taiwan can now boast of a fast, comprehensive railway network comprising High Speed Rail (HSR) on the west coast and an express railway on the east coast, allowing Taiwanese to travel around the nation in just six hours. Passengers can now save 27 minutes of travel time between Kaohsiung to Taitung and 39 minutes from Kaohsiung to Hualien.
In addition to extending the HSR, there are plans to increase the efficiency of the eastern railway system, reduce the urban-rural gap in transportation infrastructure, and encourage sightseeing by rail. However, once electrification of the southern railroad is operational, there will only be one vintage blue line train left in service.
Lin said the historic train is unique and he expressed the hope of maintaining one service a day in the future, taking into account people’s sightseeing and transportation needs.