An east-bound express train was yesterday delayed by more than 15 minutes as firefighters and railway staff tried to catch a snake on board.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said it received a report at 9:56am that a passenger on the train to Hualien had found a snake in the men’s restroom on the No. 2 carriage. When the train arrived at Yilan Railway Station at 10:07am, firefighters boarded the train, but did not find the snake. After being delayed by nine minutes, the train continued its journey to Hualien.
The TRA said the train conductor then spotted the snake again and caught it with the help of the cleaning staff when the train was between Beipu (北埔) and Hualien. They caught the snake in a big plastic bag and turned it over to the Hualien County Fire Department.
The train arrived at the Hualien Railway Station at 11:36am — 16 minutes late.
The train conductor that saved the day was 32-year-old Chu Huan-rong (朱奐榮), who assumed his position two months ago.
Recounting the incident, Chu said he immediately asked passengers to leave the aisle in front of the men’s restroom and worked with the cleaning staff to chase the potentially poisonous snake to the restroom and lock the room from the outside.
The snake has black and white stripes and is about the length of a person’s arm, Chu said, adding that passengers were afraid it might be venomous like a Formosan pit viper or Taiwanese krait.
Chu said he was scared, but was determined to catch the snake so the train could continue operating.
According to the Hualien County Fire Department, it was actually a non-venomous Formosan wolf snake, a nocturnal species that lives in low-altitude forests.
Because of its similarity to the deadly Taiwanese krait, it is one of the most often killed non-venomous snake species, the department said, adding that the snake would be released in a mountainous area.
The TRA said the snake was likely brought on board the express train as a pet by a passenger.
TRA regulations require that passengers place their pets in a container not exceeding 43cm in length, 32cm in width and 31cm in height. While on board, the container must be stowed under the passenger’s seat at all times.
Passengers are required to check in the container if it exceeds the stated measurements. Animals that threaten the safety of other passengers on board, such as poisonous snakes and wild beasts, are not allowed on trains.
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