Sat, Jan 05, 2019 - Page 2 News List

TRA thinking about switch from Hello Kitty-themed train

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Railways Administration’s Hello Kitty-themed train drives across a bridge on Aug. 9 last year.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Railways Administration

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) on Thursday said that it was considering decorating its Hello Kitty-themed train with other popular cartoon characters.

The agency has only one train featuring the popular Japanese cartoon character, which was renovated from a Taroko Express train. It operates three times a week.

Although the Hello Kitty-themed train was an immediate sensation when it was launched in 2016, the agency’s contract with Sanrio Co, the Tokyo-based company that owns the exclusive rights to produce and sell products featuring Hello Kitty, is to expire on Feb. 1.

The agency said that it has yet to decide whether to extend the contract.

While the agency’s catering service department wants to continue the partnership for another six months, the rolling stock department has already made plans to conduct train maintenance this month and the next, the agency said, adding that the rolling stock department has to assess if the train renovation would affect train safety.

Both departments have submitted their proposals to TRA managers, the agency said.

Aside from Sanrio, the agency said that it is in talks with other cartoon character franchisees and it would make an announcement after finalizing its decision.

Asked if the agency has benefited from having a Hello Kitty-themed train, the agency said that the train service had met its revenue expectations.

All peripheral products on the Hello Kitty-themed train also carry the TRA logo, for which the agency charges Sanrio royalty fees.

The train sparked praise and criticism alike when it was launched.

Taiwanese comic artist Au Yao-hsing (敖幼祥), famed for his comic series Wulongyuan (烏龍院), called it a mockery of local artists’ talent.

He was joined by the Taipei Comic Artist Labor Union, which lodged a protest against the train service.

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