THSRC extends its offer of half-price fare to month's end

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 12

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) yesterday announced that it will continue to offer 50 percent discounts on bullet train tickets until the end of the month. The offer was originally due to expire on Friday.

"In response to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' [MOTC] suggestion and public expectations, the board of directors decided to extend the half-priced period to Jan. 31," THSRC executive director Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said during a press briefing.

As the company needs time to adjust its ticketing systems, consumers will have to wait until tomorrow to buy tickets for Jan. 20 through Jan. 31, he said.

Regular fares will be charged beginning on Feb. 1. As a two-week advance-booking period is required, commuters will be able to purchase tickets dated after Feb. 1 starting on Friday.

The same rule applies to ticket purchases for the Lunar New Year holidays. Tickets for Feb. 17, Lunar New Year's Eve, will be available starting on Feb. 4.

However, as the THSRC has yet to devise a flexible ticketing system, travelers will not be able to purchase round-trip tickets for the nine-day long vacation and long lines are expected at the stations. Some people even joked that tents and duvets might appear when people queue overnight to snatch tickets.

Ou admitted that it would take some time beforee the system became more user-friendly, and construction of an online and phone ticketing system is still in the works.

THSRC operates a total of 38 trains per day, with 19 trains northbound and the same number southbound.

Although traffic is expected to heavy during the Lunar New Year holidays, Ou said the company has no plan to provide extra train services as this could trigger more glitches or safety concerns before the system has been stabilized.

THSRC yesterday also applied with the MOTC for an examination of the newly completed section between Taipei City and Banciao (板橋), Taipei County, after verification by the Lloyd's Register Group. The bullet train now runs between Banciao and Zuoying (左營) in Kaohsiung City.

Whether the new section would be able to start operating before the Lunar New Year would depend on the MOTC and the examination team's decision, Ou said, adding that the company would respect their decision.

The THSRC yesterday also received its first fine of NT$1.5 million (US$45,790) from Miaoli County's environmental protection bureau for breaching noise control regulations.

The bureau demanded that the THSRC make improvements by Feb. 28 or face daily fines.

Ou said that the train system had passed environmental assessment tests, but the company would continue to communicate with local authorities to fix the issue.