The Taiwan Railways Administration yesterday said that it is monitoring the number of headrest covers on the seats of its Hello Kitty-themed train after more than 300 of them were stolen by passengers during the train’s inaugural run between Taipei and Taitung on Monday.
The administration’s first Taroko Express train featuring the popular cartoon character became an immediate sensation earlier this week. However, the administration found that a large number of the headrest covers on the seats, which have Hello Kitty designs printed on them, went missing after the train’s inaugural journey was completed yesterday evening.
“The covers are available in two different patterns. To replace some of the missing ones, we had also prepared 120 backup covers just in case,” Catering Services Department general manager Liu Chien-liang (劉建良) said. “However, by the end of the day only 168 were left, 328 of them went missing.”
Asked why so many of the headrest covers were stolen, Liu said that perhaps the passengers wanted to take one of each design and keep them as souvenirs. The administration did not expect that most of the headrest covers would be taken away, he said.
The estimated loss totaled about NT$16,000, he added.
It was not the first time that Taiwanese travelers were reported to have taken away items on transportation systems or from public places. Passengers on EVA Airways Corp’s (長榮航空) Hello Kitty aircraft, for example, were found to have taken napkins, paper cups, dining utensils and pillow cases featuring Hello Kitty designs. Some passengers even tried to tuck pillows into their carry-on luggage before being asked by flight attendants to take them out.
Liu said that the stolen headrest covers are made of a fabric called Tetron, which can be cleaned and reused.
He said that the administration is considering asking Japan’s Sanrio Co, which owns the exclusive rights to produce and sell products featuring Hello Kitty, to produce headrest covers using non-woven fabric instead.
As the administration plans to use the special Taroko Express train again to observe the 90th anniversary of the launch of the Hualien-Taitung railway line, Liu said that the administration would monitor the headrest covers in each train carriage.
On-board service personnel are to deliver public broadcast messages reminding passengers to maintain the cleanliness of each carriage, he added.
The administration has an inventory of only 1,600 headrest covers, which might not be sufficient, Liu said.
TAIPEI REACTIONS: Joanne Ou decried China’s ‘gangster diplomacy,’ while MOFA said its Fiji counterpart dealt fairly with the incident and protected the trade office’s rights The world should denounce the actions of Chinese embassy staffers in Fiji against a Taiwanese diplomat during a National Day celebration in Suva, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday as it thanked the Fijian government for its help after the Oct. 8 incident. Two Chinese diplomats tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Oct. 8, and a Taiwanese diplomat who tried to stop them taking photographs suffered a head injury. MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news briefing that the ministry
The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, the US Seventh Fleet announced yesterday. It was their fifth joint operations this year in the fleet’s area of operations, it said in a statement. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain joined the JS Kirisame of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta. The Arunta’s commanding officer, Commander Troy Duggan, said that Australia was continuing to build on its already close relationship with Japan and the US. “This activity is a valuable and important opportunity for all three nations,”
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
Seabed waste off the west coast is 1.5 times higher than the global average, with the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河) nearly 90 times dirtier, the environmental consultancy IndigoWaters (澄洋環境顧問) said yesterday. The firm in September last year began collaborating with local oceanographers on Taiwan’s first survey of seabed waste off the west coast, collecting 6,000 samples from near the mouths of eight rivers and conducting 215 inspections. Of the samples, 83.3 percent were found to contain trash, the group said. Based on the survey, every square kilometer of seabed had about 121,074 pieces of trash weighing 102kg, IndigoWaters chief executive Yen