Sat, Feb 11, 2012 - Page 2 News List

TRA converts old rail spikes into souvenirs

MEMORIES OF YORE:The disused iron spikes will come packed in a glass bottle with a handbag that has an image of oil lamps previously used by the TRA

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

While some may regard rail spikes as ugly and useless, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) has managed to turn them into exquisite gifts, scheduled to hit the market on Valentine’s Day next week.

The TRA said that the rail spikes were used to fasten railway tracks, which were previously built on wooden railroad ties. At present, almost all of the spikes have been replaced with steel fastening devices because most of the railway tracks are now built on concrete ties.

TRA said that the spikes are made of iron and can be referred to as tieding (鐵釘) in Chinese, which literally translates as “iron tacks.”

In Chinese, the pronunciation for iron tacks is similar to that for the phrase describing something that is destined to happen, which is also tieding (鐵定). The difference is that the ding (釘) in the former is pronounced in the first tone, whereas the ding (定) in the latter is pronounced in the fourth tone.

The TRA said the rail spikes to be sold were previously used on the railway tracks at Keelung Railway Station, which is a terminus of the TRA’s Western Line.

The operator said the souvenir spikes had to undergo rustproof treatment. They were then placed in glass bottles, which are designed in the shape of a small iceberg. The handbag designed to hold the bottle has an image of oil lamps used by the TRA in the past. Aside from the rail spikes and glass bottles, the handbag also contains two unfilled job application forms, both in English and in Chinese

The TRA said it hopes that whoever receives such a gift is destined to succeed, that they could break through the ice and reach the peak.

The TRA said that only 3,000 are available at the Taipei, Songshan (松山), Taichung and Kaohsiung railway stations, with each set costing NT$1,499.

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