A fully electrified South Link Line is to begin operations on Sunday, shortening the travel time between Kaohsiung and Hualien by 39 minutes.
The line along the southeastern coast and through the Huadong Valley (花東縱谷) is Taiwan’s only main railway line that is not fully electrified.
The government in 2013 began the project to electrify the line on two sections, between Chaojhou (潮州) and Fangliao (枋寮) railway stations in Pingtung County, and Fangliao and Taitung’s Jhiben (知本) stations.
The 25km section between Chaojhou and Fangliao has been in operation since December last year.
Once electrified services starts on the remaining 98km to Jhiben, the travel time for an express train from Kaohsiung to Taitung would be shortened by about 27 minutes to about two hours, whereas the travel time between Kaohsiung and Hualien would be shortened by 39 minutes to about four hours, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said.
The line’s transport capacity would increase by 7 percent on weekdays, and 13 percent on weekends and holidays, it said.
The number of diesel-powered trains operating on the line would be reduced from 36 to 18, the agency added.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and members of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee yesterday traveled to Taitung to inspect the testing of electrified trains.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), who represents districts in Taitung and is one of the committee’s conveners, said that the new train link and increased transit bus services would greatly enhance the quality of tourism along the east coast.
The TRA has purchased new trains from Japan, which are scheduled to be delivered in the middle of next year, Liu said, adding that the trains would also increase travelers’ comfort.
There would be a 50 percent discount on tickets for the line’s trains from Wednesday next week to Jan. 3, Lin added.
It would now be possible to travel around the nation in about nine hours, if services by the TRA and the high-speed railway are used, and in less than 12 hours on TRA trains, Lin said.
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