Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 2 News List

TRA unveils new tourist train service

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Staff makes preparations in a dining car in a new Taiwan Railways Administration train in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Travelers can start booking tickets for Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) new tourist train on April 1, the railway operator said at a product launch yesterday.

Reporters were invited onboard to check out one of the new trains, which was equipped with a dining car, a lounge car and business-class train cars.

The agency started renovating the Chukuang-class train cars, which have been in use for almost 18 years, in March last year and spent about NT$79 million (US$2.56 million) to convert them into tourist train cabins, said TRA Director-General Chang Cheng-yuan (張政源), who served as conductor for the day.

The agency now has 20 business-class train cars, six dining cars and three lounge cars.

It is also partnering with ezTravel to market the service, Chang said.

Families and companies planning a group tour can take advantage of the tourist train service, which would fit their needs perfectly, Chang said, adding that international visitors could board the train and experience the rail tour themselves.

The train also offers other services and facilities, including charging stations for smartphones, karaoke lounges and nursing rooms.

Speaking of the agency’s diversification plans, Chang said the TRA is to set up an asset development center next month, in line with its objective to have non-railway-related businesses account for 50 percent of its revenue by 2024.

Ticket sales accounted for about 80 percent, or NT$23 billion, of its revenue last year, while non-railway related businesses contributed NT$4.56 billion, TRA data showed.

One of the agency’s recent successes is turning an old facility — the Sinfong Railway Station in Hsinchu County — into a profit-generating machine by leasing the old station building to Starbucks Coffee.

The agency is also finding other ways to better utilize its assets, such as outsourcing management of businesses at Taipei Railway Station to Breeze Center Corp under a renovate-operate-transfer business model.

Additionally, the TRA has a property in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) that is open to bidding from interested developers, while a hotel inside New Kaohsiung Railway Station is soon to be completed.

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