Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Train enthusiasts enjoy anniversary rail journey

GOING LOCO TRA celebrated its 119th birthday with a steam train ride into Taipei County, tickets for which sold out within two days

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Imagine a train equipped with no air-conditioning system where the smell of burning coal permeates the cars.

That was what 224 people experienced yesterday when they took a steam train ride in celebration of the 119th anniversary of the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).

The steam train set off from Songshan Train Station after a brief ceremony yesterday morning and headed directly to Chingtung (菁桐) Station in the Pingshi (平溪) Township of Taipei County, which was at one point famous for its coal-mining industry.

The train then made a two-hour stop at Shiefen (十分) Station before returning to Songshan.

The event was organized by the Railway Culture Society of Taiwan, which also publishes a bimonthly publication, Rail News.

All tickets for the event were sold out only two days after the organizers made them available to the public on May 30, some were snapped up by enthusiasts from as far away as Japan.

Cheng Min-chang (鄭銘彰), the society's chairman, said one of the Japanese railway fans was so thrilled about the train ride that he decided to stay an extra day in Taiwan to enable him to escort the steam train back to its garage in the Changhwa County before returning home.

Japanese train

The locomotive used yesterday was a CK124 model that TRA purchased in 1936. Between 1936 and 1942, the administration brought in a total of seven locomotives of the same model from Japan.

In 1982, the administration cancelled all steam train services on main railway lines. Around the same time, however, it began restoration work on some of the old yet functional trains. CK124 was one of them, whose restoration work was completed in 2001.

The locomotive made its first appearance in November of the same year, when the society hosted an event which saw the train run on the South Link (南迴鐵路).

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