Fri, Dec 06, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Rail authority boosting communications system

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) announced on Tuesday that it had completed the construction of a “fiber-to-the-station” system in 226 stations nationwide, and that the system would enable it to provide faster automatic ticketing and value-added services.

Chen San-chyi (陳三旗), director of the TRA’s electrical engineering department, said the construction was completed in October.

The new system, which cost NT$2 billion (US$ 67.5 million) to build, will replace the PDH (plesiochronous digital hierarchy) and SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) systems, he said.

The agency has been using wireless communication mostly to deploy trains, but the new system will allow it to add more on-board services, Chen said.

Conductors will be able to use their personal digital assistants (PDAs) to check the number of unsold seats on board before the train departs or meals ordered by passengers, he said. They will also be able to use video calls to register — and hopefully retrieve — lost items, and if a situation arises where a passenger needs emergency medical assistance, a PDA could be used to broadcast requests for help from any medical professionals on board, he said.

While the department has finishing planning for all these new services, it has yet to secure the funding for these projects, Chen said.

“We estimated that these projects would cost about NT$50 million,” he said.

However, there are no plans at present to offer Wi-Fi service for passengers.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp announced earlier this year that it will offer on-board Wi-Fi service next year, while several bus companies already provide it.

Asked if the TRA would be offering Wi-Fi, Chen said it would have to study the possibility.

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