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Thu, Jan 04, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Special train tickets bear lucky New Year messages

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

Over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Taiwan Railway Administration plans to sell "good luck" tickets, capitalizing on a recent trend among rail passengers who collect tickets that bear auspicious-sounding combinations of station names.

Among the offerings is a ticket for the route between Yongkang (永康) and Pao-an (保安) in Tainan County, which has proven especially popular among Taiwanese ticket collectors.

The four Chinese characters printed on tickets for the trip, when read counterclockwise as "Yong pao an kang" (永保安康), mean "peace forever."

Although the fare for the actual trip is just NT$15, scalpers have been selling the tickets for up to NT$1,000.

According to Chen Ching-piao (陳清標), a general manager at the railway administration, the Yong-kang to Pao-an tickets were sold out on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day recently -- with passengers buying the maximum 60,000 tickets allotted for each day.

Chen suspects that most of the tickets were purchased by collectors who didn't actually make the trip between Yongkang and Pao-an. The two small rail stations pull in roughly NT$3 million a month because of the collecting craze.

Chen said the rail administration was looking for other possible combinations of train station names that could prove popular among fortune seekers.

Another hot ticket is for a trip between Tatu (大肚) and Chengkung (成功). The phrase "Ta-tu-cheng-kung (大肚成功) is used to wish good fortune to a couple after the birth of a child. "Tatu" and "Chengkung" in Chinese mean "big tummy" and "success," respectively.

The rail administration will be selling the tickets as a gift pack for NT$100. In addition, the agency will be selling souvenir tickets printed with special dates.

For example, a popular date is Aug. 8, 1999, Chen said, as 1999 was the 88th year of the Republic of China. The Chinese word for "eight," "ba" () is similar to "fa" (), meaning "to get rich."

The promotional tickets will be sold on train carriages and at station restaurants and shops.

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