TRA to end freight train service on weak demand

NO MOTORBIKES::People can still send goods, fruits and vegetables and pets using trains, and the TRA would mull running freight trains for holidays, it said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jan 21, 2019 - Page 1

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday said it would end its freight train service at the end of next month.

The railway operator launched the service in 1961, with each train consisting of at least six carriages.

During the service’s peak years, it transported 6.4 million packages per year, agency statistics show.

In addition to packages and vegetables, the service transported pets and motorcycles.

However, with the rise of private cargo companies, the number of packages it handled has dwindled to 200,000 per year, the statistics show.

The cargo train operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays between Chaojhou Station in Pingtung County and Hualien Railway Station, the agency said, adding that a single trip takes just over 10 hours.

Railway enthusiasts are interested in the freight cars because they are often attached to regular blue engines, which are equipped with electric fans, the agency said.

The last freight service would run on Feb. 27, the railway operator said.

However, people can still use the TRA’s trains to transport goods, fruit and vegetables and pets, the agency said, adding that some Chukuang Express trains have an extra carriage to store luggage and cargo.

The agency said that if there is demand to transport large amounts of fruit during certain holidays, such as pomeloes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, it would assess the possibility of dispatching a charter train.

However, the agency said that it would no longer transport motorcycles.

Demand for transporting motorbikes has been declining, it said, adding that demand picks up slightly before the winter and summer vacations and before schools open, when students send their scooters home or to the cities where they attend school.

The cost of transporting scooters is higher than transporting goods, as it needs to outsource the handling of the scooters to contractors, the TRA said.