The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) would propose an amendment to the Railway Act (鐵路法) to allow it to dispose of its own properties nationwide and set the pricing scheme for railway tour packages, TRA Director-General Chang Cheng-yuan (張振源) said yesterday.
“Under the Railway Act and the National Property Act (國有財產法), we have very limited authority to decide what we can do with our own assets and properties. As such, we are seeking to amend the Railway Act to rectify the situation,” Chang said in a speech at a ceremony to honor 68 model workers at the agency.
The proposed amendment would also give the agency the flexibility to set ticket prices for railway tour packages, so that they would not be constrained by caps imposed on fares for regular and express trains, he said.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan Railways Administration
Chang, a former deputy minister of transportation and communications who in 2018 was transferred to the railway agency to reform it, also listed six other projects that the agency plans to execute in the coming years.
Under the TRA’s transit-oriented development plan, called the “Pearl Necklace Project” (珍珠串鍊計畫), the TRA would develop its assets within and around more than 200 railway stations across the nation, with the thousands of kilometers of tracks connecting them like a pearl necklace, he said.
“We hope the project would boost the agency’s financial soundness and eventually turn it from a debt-ridden organization into a profitable one,” he said.
If the agency turns profitable, top workers would each receive a pearl necklace as a gift, he added.
The agency’s structure would also be changed so that it can operate as a national corporation, Chang said, adding that it would ask the Executive Yuan to adjust the pay scale for TRA workers.
Following the deadly Puyuma Express derailment in 2018, which killed 18 people and injured 215 people, the agency has been working to reinforce the safety of the railway system and improve facilities for passengers, he said.
The agency would also launch a second wave of an aesthetic makeover of the train services — including railway stations, train cabins, corporate image, and cultural and creative products, he said.
“We are seeking to expand the sales of our mealboxes by including more partners in our franchising plan. We have worked with Taiwan FamilyMart Co to present eight new products featuring pork chop and other key ingredients in the TRA mealboxes. We are scheduled to introduce six new products this month,” he said.
To elevate the quality of railway tours, Chang said the agency would roll out five new tourism train services, including a luxurious sleeping car service.
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