Board set to discuss high speed rail ticket price hike

WAITING GAME::THSRC chairman Ou Chin-der did not say when the new prices might take effect, but it is thought it could be as early as October

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSRC) chairman Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) yesterday said the company’s board of directors would soon discuss plans to raise ticket prices, adding that the increase could exceed 9 percent.

Ou revealed the plan when the company unveiled its Cartoon Network theme train, with animated characters from the Cartoon Network painted on the exterior of cabins. Dining tables, paper cups, napkins and the aprons of the on-board service personnel are similarly decorated.

The high speed rail company has not raised ticket prices since the service was launched in 2007, despite increases in operational costs.

The ticket price adjustment plan was postponed earlier this year following a massive suspension of train services on April 25 caused by an error in the signaling system. As a result, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) promised that there would be no changes to ticket prices before September this year.

Ou said that the plan to adjust ticket prices would be given to the board of directors for discussion at the end of this month or the beginning of next month, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would have to approve the board’s decision.

He said that the entire administrative procedure required to raise prices would take at least two months. While Ou did not commit to a specific date as to when the new ticket price plan would take effect, from the information provided it was thought that passengers could start paying more as early as October.

He said the company estimated that ticket price increases could exceed 9 percent, but the exact amount would have to be decided by the board of directors and approved by the ministry.

Ou also said that the board of directors would discuss other measures in addition to the ticket price adjustment plan, such as lowering ticket prices for off-peak trains.

Meanwhile, the company said the Cartoon Network theme train is scheduled to start operating today, adding that an updated schedule for the train would be available online every Monday. The ticket price for the theme train is the same as for other high speed rail trains.

The theme train is one of four high speed rail trains purchased last year to accommodate an increase in passenger numbers.

According to the company, the latest high speed trains are equipped with several new features. There is nursery room, passengers needing a quick charge of their mobile phones and laptops can find electrical outlets by payphone booths in the fourth and 12th cabins, and each passenger’s seat has a bigger tray table and cup holder.