Sun, Aug 27, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Wulai railway reopens

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Three cars stand on a railway in New Taipei City’s Wulai District yesterday as the service was reopened after two years of reconstruction.

Photo: Chang An-chiao, Taipei Times

A 90-year-old railway in New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) was reopened yesterday after nearly two years of reconstruction following Typhoon Soudelor.

The train’s three carriages transport passengers 1.5km between Wulai Station and Waterfall Station.

There will be a discounted fare of NT$30 until the end of next month.

The railway is a landmark of the district along with Wulai Waterfall, Lansheng Bridge and Neidong National Forest Recreation Park, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said at the reopening ceremony, adding that the area has the potential to become an international tourist attraction.

The originally hand-pulled railway was built in 1928 during the Japanese colonial period to transport logs, tea and passengers, Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hua-ching (林華慶) said.

“After the highway was completed in 1951, most sections of the railway were demolished except for the 1.5km portion,” he said.

Typhoon Soudelor in August 2015 caused serious damage to the remaining portion of the railway, 120m of which completely collapsed, he said.

“Much of the reconstruction work was done by hand as big machines could not operate on the narrow roads,” he said, adding that the work was finished last month.

Chu Hung-chi (朱鴻基), who used to pull the carts as a teenager, gave many photographs to a museum by Wulai Station.

Chu said that in the 1960s, he met many tourists from the US who would give him enough tips in a single day to purchase a bag of rice.

His two grandsons said they were glad to see the railway reopen, but expressed hope that the Aboriginal Atayal people’s culture could be featured more in local tourism.

The railway closure dealt a blow to local businesses, a cafe shopkeeper surnamed Lin (林) said, adding that their cafe only barely stayed afloat thanks to some regulars and bicyclists.

“When the typhoon struck, our houses were washed over by mudslides because the bureau did not properly maintain fortifications on the slope,” Lin said, adding that they were still negotiating compensation with bureau officials.

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