Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Railway to offer pet transport

FIDO HITS THE TRACK Officials said the program would seek reference from other transportation systems as to what specifications would be required for pet containers

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Starting in July, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) passengers will be able to bring their pets on board, the nation's largest railway service provider said yesterday.

TRA director general Frank Fan (范植谷) said the administration is conducting a survey to test public opinion on the measure.

The questionnaires will be distributed to TRA passengers nationwide and the entire survey is scheduled to be completed this month, he said.

Fan said that the survey results will merely serve as reference and even if the majority of passengers oppose the deal, the administration will try implementing this measure for a couple of months to determine if it is indeed unfeasible.

“The same procedure was used when we tested the viability of reserved cabins for female passengers,” he said.

The administration eventually decided to cancel the female-only cabin service after it had been executed for six months.

Fan said the administration has completed a similar survey in 2003, and the results showed that 72 percent of passengers opposed the measure.

Lawmakers serving at the legislature’s Transportation Committee also urged the administration to quickly execute the measure as it could help boost sagging TRA ticket sales.

They even suggested that the administration could assign passengers with pets to sit in certain carriages on a train.

In response, Fan said the proposal would require the administration to overcome several technical difficulties.

Currently, the TRA’s ticketing system assigns passengers with the same destination to sit in certain carriages.

Those heading to Taichung, for example, could be assigned to sit in the first and second carriages, and the third and fourth carriages are reserved for passengers heading Kaohsiung.

In that case, the TRA would have to tweak the ticketing system if they want to reserve carriages for pet owners.

Fan said the administration has not decided on the specifications of the containers for pets, adding that it would seek reference from other transportation systems.

However, he said, in principle, the administration could allow small-size animals to board the train with the passengers, like carry-on luggage. They would have to check in their luggage if it is a large-size animal.

Only passengers taking express trains would be able to use the service, he said.

Specific rules would also be applied to regulate the carriage of special pets, such as snakes and lizards.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail, on the other hand, requires that the animal must be placed in a container of no more that 55cm in length, 45cm in width and 38cm in height.

Passengers must put the containers under their seats, and they also need to ensure that excrement or fluids do not leak from the containers.

Rather than reserved cabins, pet owners are randomly seated in different carriages on the high speed rail.

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