Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Japanese railway lover sings praise of TRA’s expertise

By Hua Meng-ching and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Japanese railway enthusiast Hideki Fujii has visited Taiwan more than 50 times out of admiration for the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) repair and maintenance of Japanese steam locomotives, he said.

Fujii, 48, said that his first encounter with Japanese trains in Taiwan was four years ago, when he rode a CT273 locomotive through the Huadong Valley (花東縱谷).

The locomotive on Saturday made the first of three trips scheduled this year between Hualien’s Yuli Railway Station and Taitung Railway Station, with the other two trips planned for Saturday and July 7.

Fujii was on last Saturday’s trip and said he would return to Taiwan on July 7 to ride it again.

“My next trip will be to follow the train [by car],” he said, adding that he plans to photograph the locomotive as it passes through the valley, including as it crosses the Kecheng Iron Bridge (客城鐵橋).

“I cannot take pictures of the train while riding it,” he said.

Fujii, an office worker from Tokyo, said he spends his spare time following locomotives, especially the model C571 locomotive that runs on West Japan Railway Co’s Yamaguchi Line, which connects Yamaguchi and Masuda on western Honshu.

It is good to see the administration put so much effort into maintaining trains from the Japanese colonial era, he said, adding that the trains are historically important.

The CT273 is a “sister train” of the C571 and is symbolic of the friendship between the two countries, Fujii said.

“The first time I visited Taiwan, I fell in love with it. The people are unconditionally helpful toward visitors,” he said, adding that he visits the nation whenever a railway-related event is held.

Hualien station master Wu Ching-tien (吳金添) said hearing about Fujii made him proud of his work for the railways.

Wu has since spoken with Fujii and taken pictures with him, he said.

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