The Jiji Line (集集線), one of the nation’s heritage railway routes, will be closed in March because seven of its tunnels between Zhuoshui (濁水) Station and Checheng (車埕) are in need of immediate repairs, the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) said last week.
Construction of the line began in 1919 and was completed in 1921. It was purchased by the Japanese colonial government in 1927. The line was severely damaged in the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and did not resume operations until 2002.
The TRA said the seven tunnels to be repaired were built between 1925 and 1960 and their interior walls cracked after the 921 quake.
TRA maintenance work to shore up the tunnels reduced the space inside to the point that only small diesel-powered trains can pass through.
The renovation work will begin on March 1 and end on Jan. 14, next year. During that period, trains will only operate between Ershui (二水) and Longquan (龍泉) stations.
The TRA has arranged with two bus operators to transport passengers from Longquan to Chencheng and will pay them about NT$8.96 million (US$280,000) to cover the ticket costs.
The TRA will also start taking reservations today for special cruise train services to the East Coast this weekend, which are part of celebration of the 30th anniversary of its North Link. The trip will include a brief steam train ride from Hualien to Chungde (崇德), with a CK-124 model locomotive pulling the train.