Taking the train is still an important transportation mode for commuters, with the stations in Taipei, Taoyuan City and Jhongli City ranking as the top three railway hubs with the highest passenger flow in the nation.
At the other extreme, three small stations on the South-Link Line (南迴線) ranked in the bottom three for passenger usage.
Fangye (枋野) Station on the South-Link Line, which connects Pingtung County and Taitung County on the nation’s southern tip, averaged only one passenger per day, according to statistics from 2012.
After the top three rail hubs, the others in the top 10 for busiest passenger flow in 2012 were Taichung, Tainan, Hsinchu, Banciao (板橋), Kaohsiung, Shulin (樹林) and Songshan (松山) stations.
Peng Kun-yen (彭坤炎), head of the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Transportation Services Department, said northern regions contain about two-thirds of the population and therefore many of the busiest stations are in the north.
“Taipei Railway Station being No. 1 is no surprise to anyone. Taoyuan and Jhongli stations are up there due to their high numbers of daily commuters taking trains to their place of work,” said Peng, whose office was responsible for calculating the numbers.
“Passenger numbers at New Taipei City’s (新北市) Banciao Station have been diluted in recent years since the opening of the Taipei MRT [Mass Rapid Transit] line. The same goes for Kaohsiung Station due to the opening of the Greater Kaohsiung MRT line. Therefore these two stations have fallen in the rankings,” he said.
The nation’s least used stations in 2012 were in Fangye (枋野), Gujhuang (古莊), Neishih (內獅), Fangshan (枋山), Shanli (山里), Sanmin (三民), Yuemei (月美), Sikou (溪口), Wanggu (望古) and Tafu (大富).
The first four stations on the list are all on the South-Link Line, with Fangye station the least used.
Fangye is a traffic-control signal station for trains making temporary stops to wait for another train to pass and is only used by railway workers.
A TRA official said most of the stations at the bottom of the list are small local railway stations, with low demand and a sparse nearby population. He said the top four least used stations only have four services per day, while two of them are for taking railway employees to and from their jobs.
The TRA is meanwhile promoting its new “Cruise Train” tourist services, which on specific dates allow passengers to stop for sightseeing at designated scenic spots and get back on board the same train to visit the next destination.
One destination is Duoliang (多良) Station, on the southern coast of Taitung County. Although the Duoliang Station was decommissioned in 2006, it is a popular stop for the “Cruise Trains,” as it is in a mountainous setting and has an excellent view of the Pacific Ocean. It has been dubbed Taiwan’s “Most Beautiful Rail Station on the Seashore.”
The TRA official said the company would offer new “Cruise Train” tours with stops at low-usage stations.