The first two sets of EMU800-model commuter trains are scheduled to arrive from Japan at the end of next month, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday, adding that the new trains would become operational before the Lunar New Year holiday.
The nation’s largest railway operator yesterday unveiled photographs of the new trains at its headquarters at Taipei Railway Station.
TRA Deputy Director-General Lu Chieh-shen (鹿潔身) said the new trains can operate at speeds of up to 130kph. The maximum speed of the commuter trains currently in use is 110kph.
Lu said the trains’ seat covers are woolen. While the law only requires 15 percent of the seats on a train to be designated as priority seating, he said that 25 percent of the seats on the new train are priority seats.
The first and the eighth cabins of the new trains can be used by cyclists traveling with their bicycles, with each cabin able to accommodate eight bicycles at a time.
The exteriors of the new commuter trains are decorated in silver, blue and yellow. The yellow line on the front of the locomotives resembles a crescent moon, or a smile.
In 2011, the state-run railway agency contracted state-run Taiwan Rolling Stock Co (TRSC) to build 296 EMU800 commuter train carriages, with the first batch of 16 carriages to be built in Japan and the remainder to be built in Taiwan.
A dispute over what brake system to install in the new trains delayed the delivery of the first 16 carriages, which were supposed to arrive in September last year.
Lu said the first batch of carriages would be divided into two sets and would undergo a 90-day testing period after they arrive, adding that an independent third party would review the operation of the new trains to certify that they meet legal requirements, standards and users’ needs.
Lu said the new trains would help increase the administration’s transport capacity for commuters between Keelung and Hsinchu, which account for about 70 percent of its daily passenger volume. The new trains will also enable the TRA to retire some of its old trains and increase train services heading to the east coast after the section between Hualien and Taitung is electrified.
Because the new commuter trains are faster, Lu said that it is considering offering a commuter express service that would only make stops at bigger stations during peak hours.