The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) is assessing the viability of making the Taipei Railway Station “taller,” moving its main office to another location and turning the space into a shopping center, TRA Director-General Frank Fan (范植谷) said recently.
Fan said central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) suggested more than a month ago to Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) that the Taipei Railway Station could “be a little taller.”
Peng’s idea has garnered wide support, Fan said, adding that the TRA would outsource the task of evaluating its viability.
Photo: Tseng Hung-ju, Taipei Times
A full reconstruction of the Taipei Railway Station would affect too large an area, but adding a few floors would be easier and ensure structural safety, he said.
“The TRA has made a rough estimate of the viability of adding floors to the station. If we use light steel materials for the additional floors, they wouldn’t place too much of a strain on structural safety,” Fan said, adding that there is a limit to how many floors can be added.
Currently, the TRA leases the second floor, part of the ground floor and the first basement floor to Breeze Square. Despite the limited space, the revenue generated by the shops on those floors has exceeded expectations.
TRA’s contract with Breeze Square stipulates a minimum revenue of NT$60 million (US$2.06 million), but estimates show that sales this year could easily surpass NT$100 million, Fan said.
Some TRA officials have suggested moving the railway agency’s offices to the nearby Taipei Twin Towers project, and turning the vacated offices — currently taking up the third to sixth floors of the station — into a commercial center, Fan said.
After the Taipei Twin Towers are completed, the TRA would regain use of 60,000 ping (198,300m2) of land, he added.
The idea and the TRA’s approach have met with approval from members of the public and railway experts.
A commuter surnamed Yang (楊) said he often used the time waiting for the train to buy some sweets on the first floor or go to the second floor for a meal.
Having a shopping center will be an even better way for commuters to while their time away as they wait for trains, he added.
Another commuter, surnamed Lin (林), said it was hard to imagine how the TRA — which has been running a deficit for years — could sit on such a vital asset for so long.
If the TRA were to move its offices to the suburbs and change the station into a mall, it would revitalize its finances and help it develop a closer connection to the public, Lin said.
“It’s about time that the TRA came to its senses,” railway expert Hung Chih-wen (洪致文) said, adding that the TRA using the station — situated in the heart of downtown — as an office building was a waste.
Foreign railway companies usually move their headquarters to the suburbs, while reserving the station itself for commercial use, Hung said.
Since railway staff do not have to pay to take the train, the TRA should not just move its headquarters to the Twin Towers, but should instead move to the suburbs, Hung said.
However, there were also dissenting voices within the TRA who said the station’s main purpose is transportation and there are already too many people coming and going from the station.
Should the station become a commercial center, the sheer amount of pedestrian traffic would create an even bigger problem, they said, adding that the TRA’s dispatch center is also housed in the station and it would be difficult to move it elsewhere.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since