The Taiwan Railway Administration’s (TRA) Taipei Railway Workshop, a maintenance depot situated along Civic Boulevard Sec. 5 close to Xinyi District near the Living Mall, will start the second phase of relocating after the Lunar New Year and is expected to be entirely evacuated by the end of the year. Comprised of 17 hectares, the Taipei City Government and TRA have already reached a preliminary consensus that part of the facilities will be designated as a city historical site, which in the future will be open to the public.
During a visit to the depot on Monday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin announced that the depot’s assembly factory, metalworking factory and engine room would all be included as part of the historical site. The city government will be communicating with the TRA to work out the exact plans for the depot, but in the short term they will be organizing a “Railway Cultural Festival.”
With approximately 16.8 hectares, the Taipei Railway Workshop was always the TRA’s largest and most important maintenance depot. The depot’s architecture is quite diverse and is representative of the railway industry of the Japanese colonial era.
Used as a maintenance depot for trains, the Taipei Railway Workshop was originally built in 1933 during the Japanese colonial era, next to the city’s Northern Gate, but moved to its current location along Civic Boulevard in 1935 due to lack of space.
When the Taipei Government’s Cultural Heritage Evaluation Committee held a public hearing in August last year after plans to move the maintenance factory to Fugang in Taoyuan County were approved, a large group of railway aficionados voiced a desire to preserve the depot, but the TRA workers’ union said that with a budget deficit of NT$1.2 billion (US$41,436,466) it would significantly benefit the sustainable operation of the TRA if parts of the depot were used for urban renewal projects.
Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs says that apart from the assembly factory, engine room and metalworking factory, the depot also has an employee bathhouse, which was designated as a historical site in 2000. Hau says that since the four buildings have all been designated historical sites, future plans will treat them as cultural assets, and after the maintenance depot has been completely moved, a “Railway Cultural Festival” will be held as early as this summer, allowing the public to get to know this part of history.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)