The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday warned that people who buy and sell train tickets, including for the Puyuma Express service, for a profit face tougher penalties after the amended Railway Act (鐵路法) took effect last month.
The launch of the electrified railway line service between Hualien and Taitung at the end of last month has not only made it possible for passengers of the Puyuma Express — the tilting train service — to travel all the way from Taipei to Taitung without having to switch trains in Hualien, it has also shortened travel time from 4.5 hours to 3.5 hours.
However, many Taitung County residents have complained that it was difficult for them to book tickets because of scalpers, local media reports said.
Ticket scalpers have been found on Facebook, among other media platforms, claiming they can help travelers purchase all types of tickets for travel between Taipei and Taitung — including for the Puyuma Express — as long as they pay an additional 5 percent as booking fee, reports said.
The TRA said that these sellers have violated the Railway Act by reselling the tickets for profit.
The revised act states that scalpers are to be fined 10 times the ticket price. They may also face a fine of up to NT$500,000 if they are found to have used computer programs that allow them to conduct massive ticket bookings.
The agency added that it is still conducting trial operations of the electrified service, which will end on Tuesday.
It will introduce a new train schedule on Wednesday, with transport capacity for the express train service between Taipei and Taitung increasing by 18 percent during weekdays and by 40 percent during holidays.
Commenting on the difficulties of securing tickets, the agency said that tourism on the east coast is booming because of active marketing by both the public and private sectors, with tourists accounting for 65 percent of the passenger volume in the summer. Despite the demand, the agency has limited ticket sales to tour groups to 20 to 30 percent for each train service.
The agency said it has allocated more seats for passengers to Taitung on all trains traveling from Taipei to Taitung, while most of the remaining seats will be used to serve passengers traveling from Hualien to Taitung.
A quick check of the TRA’s booking system shows that there are still tickets for the Puyuma Express, except trains operating at peak hours, on Friday and Sunday next week.
The agency encouraged travelers to check online regularly for ticket availability, as some people may cancel their trip.
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