In light of the impending introduction of bullet trains -- in October of next year -- the nation's century-old railway system is looking to modernize with automatic gates and a car-transportation option on select routes.
"In addition to allowing for Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) downsizing plans, the automatic gates will expedite travel for passengers and allow more precise ticketing," said Lu Chieh-shen (
TRA employees have traditionally punched tickets at boarding gates. Under the modernization plan, these people will be replaced by automatic gates and a new magnetic ticketing system.
According to Lu, the automatic gates will be able to accommodate 60 to 70 passengers a minute. In comparison, the ticketing gates used in the Taipei MRT are capable of servicing only 25 to 35 passengers a minute.
Automatic gates have already been installed at 37 stations -- all north of Yunlin. About 10 more gates will be installed in the south of the country by the end of the year. Gates will be installed on western-corridor lines by the end of next year.
Vending machines will be equipped to sell magnetic tickets by next year.
To date, an estimated NT$800 million (US$24.2 million) has been invested in the automatic gates.
In addition, a new program will allow passengers to transport their vehicles over the rails on selected routes. According to administration officials, the vehicle transportation service will cost less than renting a car for three days.
At first, the car-transportation service will be offered on routes that stop at tourism locales along the east coast.
Administration officials said that offering the service only on selected routes would allow for lower prices.
Meanwhile, TRA officials will hold a press conference today to discuss a partnership into which the agency is entering with home-delivery service provider Taiwan Pelican Express.
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