A new commuter train, purchased last year by Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), made its inaugural trip Thursday, carrying about 200 passengers from New Taipei on a route that ended in the northern coastal city of Keelung.
The passengers who boarded at the start station in Shulin District were local residents, students, and lawmakers, who said they were impressed with the EMU900 train model, manufactured by Hyundai Rotem of South Korea. Touted by the TRA as the "most beautiful local train" in history, the EMU900 has a streamlined body painted silver and green.
The interior design allows more room for wheelchairs, double the number on the TRA's other trains, and for bicycles, which are stored on upright racks.
There are also specially designed seats for pregnant women and elderly passengers. The EMU900 train comprises 10 carriages, with a total of 436 seats and 1,323 standing spaces.
On the train's arrival in Keelung, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and senior government officials hosted an inauguration ceremony. Tsai said a total of 52 EMU900 trains will be delivered by the end of 2023 to meet commuters' needs. Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who also spoke at the ceremony, said the EMU900 fleet of 52 trainsets is expected to increase Taiwan's rail travel capacity by 40 percent.
While the trains will initially operate on routes in northern and eastern Taiwan, they will gradually be deployed across the country, Lin said.
The first EMU900 is scheduled to start commercial service on April 4.