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HSR to raise ticket prices Oct. 8

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (HSR) yesterday announced that the ticket price increase will take place on Oct. 8, though more discounted tickets will also be made available.

The upcoming price increase will be the first in the public transportation company's six years of operation, the HSR said, and the prices will climb by between 7.1 percent 9.6 percent, with the fare for a trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung rising to NT$1,630 from NT$1,490.

According to the HSR, there will be 790 scheduled trains listed for early bird discounts per week, which is about 85 percent of the total number of trains weekly. The number of seats with discounted prices will be increased from the current 128,000 seats to over 260,000 seats every week.

The HSR said that 432 scheduled trains will be listed for the 35-percent-off early bird discount, which is about half of the number of all the weekly trains available for early bird discounts, and people can start booking early bird-discounted tickets starting on Sept. 11.

According to the HSR, all the newly added discount proposals will end on March 31, 2014.

HSR spokesman Ted Chia (賈先德) said that there is no correct or good timing to raise rates, but it is impossible for the company to continue being operated given current ticket prices.

"People have to book the tickets eight to 28 days prior to the scheduled travel day in order to receive early bird discount," said Chia.

"A new discount promotion that will also be launched from Oct. 8 through March 31 next year is for passengers who are between the ages of 60 and 64. These passengers can enjoy 25-percent discounts for trains scheduled between Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and trains traveling after 7 p.m.," said Chia.

For college students, Chia said, there will be 10 more trains scheduled weekly for them to enjoy 50-percent or 30-percent-off discounts on tickets

"The ticket price for the 30 day-pass will remain the same," Chia said, "while the price for the pass that passengers can use eight times within 45 days will be either raised or decreased depending on the departure and destination stations."

Chia said that once the price for train tickets is raised, the annual income for the HSR is expected to be increased by 6 percent.

"If more people are willing to take the HSR after the discount proposals are launched," Chia said, "the HSR will consider continuing carrying out all the discount proposals."

The HSR already offers many discounted train tickets, such as those for the elderly, children and students, as well as early bird specials for people who purchase tickets at least one week beforehand.

The company had originally decided to raise prices last year but later changed its plans. The proposal also met opposition from Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) in March this year. Yeh promised to freeze high-speed rail ticket prices until September.

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