Perhaps the Japanese feel especially fit that Shinkansen trains run in TAiwan seeing as they were the ones who set up the railways in TAiwan. Including the Alishan railway. And most of the trains in TAiwan have been Japanese as well.
Decades ago the fastest train (kuang hwa ) from TAipei to Kaohsiung took some six and a half hours (the more luxurious ChuKuang express with the American made General Electric diesel/electric locomotives took 8 hours) . The Kuang hwa was a Kawasaki built train if I remember correctly. It was one of those with no locomotive but every third or so car had an engine on the roof (diesel/ electric).
Then the western trunk line was electrified and English made General Electric electric locomotives did the main heavy duty work. Pulling ChuKuang as well as all the other long distance trains. Some Japanese made Tienche local trains started operating as well. Later the British made Tzechiang trains became the fastest trains in Taiwan taking around 4 hours to go from TAipei to Kaoshiung. These also had no locomotives but both ends had cars that had electric engines and driving compartments. These were later replaced by South African made trains (the locomotives were south african, the rail cars were made by TANG ENG iron works in Taiwan, like the Chukwang , Fushing and others) that once again had a locomotive (electric).
And now today we have the HSR as well. While on the east coast line we have the new Japanese made tilting trains the Taroko Express>.
Will someone who has been on one tell us bout those too? thanks
I remember the Kwang hwa trains were not airconditioned and they usually had six cars and three of those were engine cars. And it was great to lean your head out of the window and hear all three engines go up and down in volume as one. I liked the glass of hot tea everyone got for free, the 25nt lunch box with half a hardboil egg and a pork cutlet plus some veggies in a stainless steel bowl that people somehow didnt steal. And on the Kwang Hwa you got a box of sweets as well if memory serves me right.
Still Chukwang was better because it was airconditioned , took bout an hour longer to KHH but who cares when you have a dining car. Soup sloshing around on a big plate (25 nt or so) plus some nice main dishes for 60nt or so. Some people with no assigned seating tends to hog the dining car though so later only a few trains had them.
The Chukwang (pre electric locomotive ) was my fav mode of travel on TAiwan for a long time. Lots of room, blue velvet seats, big plate glass windows. They usually only went bout 60kilometers per hour. The Kwang Hwa bout 80 kph tops. Later when the western trunk line went electric, the all british built Tzechiang trains were pretty fast hitting 120kph at top speed flat out
My fav. is the Pu Tong Hau. IGreat fun. You used to have enough time at the station to buy a lunch-box & a drink and could stand in the stairwell. You could also flip the seats over so everyone can face eachother and play cards. Spinning fans on the ceiling are mandatory.
Going home to Kanting from KHH, our neighbour is a conductor, so we run into him at times.
I recall riding a late night one from Taipei to Yangmei on Fridays. You could smoke in the stairwells when the conductor looked away, however I thought that someone would sooner or later fall out of the open doors .
[quote=“Mr He”]When did the last ping kuai disappear?
I recall riding a late night one from Taipei to Yangmei on Fridays. You could smoke in the stairwells when the conductor looked away, however I thought that someone would sooner or later fall out of the open doors .[/quote]
Werent they replaced by tienche local trains after electrification? I think before electrification the western line was something like around 400nt one way for Chukwang (top class) , 300nt for Fushing (second class but actually similar to chukwang except a bit more stops), 200nt for Limited Express “tyah hao kuai” and then about 100nt for pingkuai from Taipei to Kaohsiung. At that time the flight was about 700nt each way. The ping kuai competed with the wild chicken overnite bus from TAipei to Kaoshiung that took about 10 hours and had 2 drivers (one at a time of course) for 100nt each way. I took that one time. Was a trip !! NO freeway then. It FELT like a real adventure. The Chukwang took something like 7 and a half hours, the Fushing 8 and a half hours , the limited express 8 and a half hours (but not airconditioned and no reclining seats) and then the pingkuai was something like nearly 9 and a half hours because it stopped at EVERY STOP ALONG THE WAY and had to wait for every other train to pass it . It was a nitemare . We are talking 1975 here. This was around the time when flights to hualian was about 450nt and there were NO trains to Hualien at all from Suao. NO southern bend railway either. But there was a narrow gauge train from Hualien to TAitung (took that once) . Great fun those days . Going to Oluanpi in those days was like a major expedition !!!
And i think a few people have fallen out of those doors !!
South African made locomotives pulling Taiwanese made railway cars. The new tze chiang trains . Iv ridden these and they seem similar to the old tze chiang (which I guess were getting on in miles) , maybe a bit heavier and smoother.
Chu Kwang express found on both the western as well as eastern lines The Chu Kwang used to be blue, but then they introduced blue to Fu Shing express and the former became orange. Fu Shing is almost the same as Chu Kwang except a bit cheaper as it makes more stops. And the railway cars are older it seems so more noise, etc.
Eastern lines newest and the TRA newest baby the all Japanese made Shinkansen wannabe: The Taroko Express tilting train :
I understand they are thinking of introducing these on the western lines to compete with the Taiwan HSR as they can be quite fast too. These Hitachi made trains are apparently quite nice. Still waiting for a report from someone whos been on one.
Some PingKuai trains are still running. I use them for hiking trips on the East Coast, south of Ilan. For example, to go to some of the smaller station like Wuta or Hanben, I’ll take the 8.23 train from Ilan which is a PingKuai. ‘The old Bluey’ , diesel fumes in the tunnel, toilet doors sliding open on the sharper turns, ceiling fans dispersing the collective ‘Bendong breath’, revolving chairs with the fiddly handles that the ignorami can’t figure out and the obligatory random stops in the middle of nowhere and no annoying intercom to fill people in with the latest reason for the delay…that’s the getting away from it all antidote to city living for me.
But, I guess they’ll be phased out of existence pretty soon. The other slow trains on the schedule are the electric trains where everybody looks across at each other like on a New York subway train. Yuck.
haha good description !! I remember the days of summers in fulung when there was NO pinghai road and only trains went there. couldnt always take the ChuKwang for 65nt, sometimes had to make do with a 2 plus hour trip on the ping kuai (at least it was only 25nt) And you know, there was something to be said for those diesel fumes in those many many tunnels to fulung. And all the stops out in nowhere land to let some other trains pass by. It had a lot of character, clacking away with no airconditioning, open windows. And one lesson I learned was NEVER NEVER bite into a peanut if you are sitting in one of those cars where the lights dont work and its pitch black in the tunnels ( I mean you cant see anything, not even your own hand in those tunnels in a train thats got broken lighting) . Cuz you wouldlnt know you bit into a rotten one till its in your mouth. MAJOR UGH.
Guess a trip to Fulung on the TAroko wouldnt be the same would it. Wouldnt have the free tea (tea leaf style) in the tall glass. Wouldnt have the 25nt lunch box. And it would probably only take 40 mins I guess from TAipei and probably cost you 200nt?
I remember an exhibition of the TAiwan Railways in Japan a few years back. And they actually made some of those railway box lunches and flew them over to Japan for the event. And those suckers sold out like hotcakes. A lot of Japanese remember them when they visited Taiwan back in the day.
The HSR and the Taroko and the new Tze Chiang are great trains and they get the job done !! But , they dont have the same character do they?
Just like us, the modern man. A lot of us get there in a hurry and we get the job done , but have we lost a bit along the way?
Well, if you really want to get retro, there was a piece in the Taipei Times a few days ago, talking about the old steam trains. They’re thinking about putting one on the PingHsi Line once a month or something like that…bring your own yard of sugar-cane.
Yeah, I read that. I’m trying to snag a seat for the opening run in December. I hope it’s successful as it will give the old towns along the line more incentive to clean up and revitalize. That’s such a lovely area of the country and with truly quaint little villages could be a real tourist draw.
I’ve got my eye on a row of old one-story row houses in Erkeng, just outside Jingtong.
My memory goes back to 75 when I and a friend brought a backpack and we stayed
At the FASD hostel which was abandoned at 5pm. We were the only ones there and we were
Stupid enough to camp outside just because we brought a tent and later found out that there were many poisonous serpents there and in fact an American girl a few years later
Got bit inside the hostel and died before help arrived The hostel was literally without any staff after 5pm and was supposed to be haunted too. I asked the crew the next day and they kind of shrugged their shoulders
If I recall correctly there was no south bend theN
We took the highway bus and the road to Kenting was two lane only and it felt really far away
Took a bus up to taitung and later the then narrow gauge train from taitung to hualian
There was no train to hualian then so it was a bus to Taipei
We could have caught the train from Ilan then I think but the bus was a twice a day straight to Taipei
Focus Taiwan confirms earlier reports about the full electrification of the Taiwan Rail network around the island. The expected completion of the last part of the South Link is scheduled to be December 23, 2020:
Wow, electrification of the South Link will be really cool. I have ridden it a few times but think I will go back again to see what it’s like electrified.
That being said, there is some bittersweetness to the modernization of all this stuff. Thanks for digging up this thread. I really enjoyed @tommy525’s reminisces of the TRA in the 70s. Really cool - a bygone era for sure. Although even today, I think the TRA remains a railway that has (for better or for worse ) held on to a lot of its history.