With services on the high-speed, Taipei-to-Kaohsiung railway set to start in 18 months, the company in charge of the project yesterday revealed preliminary train service plans, ticket pricing and seating arrangements.
According to Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) spokesman Edward Lin (林天送), when the bullet trains start operating in October next year, the company plans to offer five types of service, ranging from 80 minutes on the express train to 117 minutes with stops at every station between the capital and the nation's second city.
Traveling at speeds of up to 300kph, trains running along the 345km route will cut travel time between the two cities by several hours.
However, the price of tickets has become a concern, particularly to airlines.
Lin said that according to the pricing policy set out in the THSRC's contract with the government, fares will be based on a price of NT$3.459 per kilometer per person. However, Lin said that three other factors could affect the ticket price.
"Depending on the company's financial needs, the price can be adjusted upward 20 percent at the most. There is no lower limit to the price, however. Also, the company may choose to offer incentives for mid-length and long-distance travel. This too would be subject to a 20 percent adjustment limit. Finally, peak and off-peak tickets will also vary," Lin said.
"The price will be more expensive than for traditional trains and cheaper than airplane tickets," Lin said.
Each train will consist of 12 cars, one of which will be a business class cabin. Seats in five of the cars cannot be booked and will be open only to those buying tickets at the time of travel.
The other seven cars, including the business class cabin, will have assigned seating. Each train can carry up to 989 passengers. According to Lin, pricing options for assigned seating and open seating cabins have yet to be confirmed.
In addition, service options for business class travelers will be similar to those on commuter airplane flights. Each business class cabin will be serviced by one or two attendants who will provide snacks, drinks and personal audio services.
The standard-class cabins will resemble those of traditional trains.
In the initial phase of train operation, a total of 176 trains will run daily; 88 in each direction. Seventeen trains in each direction will run non-stop between the Taipei and Kaohsiung.
According to Lin, the company estimates transporting 148,000 passengers next year, its first year of operation. The company needs to raise its transport rate to 231,000 passengers per day by 2008, 273,000 by the end of 2013, 300,000 by the end of 2023, and 323,000 by the end of 2033. THSRC is bound contractually to reach a capacity of 300,000 by 2033. Taipei-Taichung travelers are expected to make up 20.8 percent of passengers, Taipei-Kaohsiung 17.2 percent and Taichung-Kaohsiung 10.8 percent.
Trains will also be equipped with bathrooms, vending machines and telephone booths.
The high-speed railway is roughly 60 percent complete. The main infrastructure is 99 percent finished.
Lin and THSRC chairwoman Nita Ing (
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