Taitung to be destination for Puyuma by year-end
By Joy Lee, The China Post
March 1, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Puyuma (普悠瑪號), owned by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), will add Taitung as its new destination by the end of this year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) announced yesterday.
Yeh said that by adding Puyuma as one of the trains commuting on the East Coast of Taiwan, it will not only shorten the amount of travel time for passengers but also solve the problem of high demand for East Coast train tickets.
"Implementation of trunk line electrification between Hualien and Taitung will take place by the end of this year," Yeh said, "and along with the completed electrification of railways, Puyuma will be able to travel to Taitung."
Yeh said that the travel time between Taipei and Taitung will only be 3 1/2 hours via Puyuma, compared to four hours for the existing Tzu Chiang trains. Also, more East Coast tickets will be available for passengers as more trains are scheduled.
"The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) will begin the construction of trunk line electrification between Taitung and Pintung," said Yeh.
According to Yeh, the MOTC not only wants to complete trunk line electrification but also finish constructing dual tracks on the railways nationwide.
Yeh attended the opening ceremony for Guanshan train station in Taitung yesterday. Building new train stations is part of the plan to improve the railway system on the East Coast, said Yeh.
According to the MOTC, the designs for new train stations are based on the idea of reflecting local culture and the natural environment, with the aim of assisting the promotion of tourism for these railway destinations.
The TRA purchased a total of 136 Puyuma tilting train cars from Japan at a cost of NT$10.6 billion, with 16 of them delivered to Taiwan last October and the rest arriving by August this year. According to the TRA's plan, all 136 Puyuma tilting train cars are expected to operate on the Taipei-Hualien-Taitung railway system starting on Chinese New Year, early 2014.
According to the MOTC, the railway system is the main transportation for East Coast residents to commute to the Northern and Western parts of Taiwan due to the barriers posed by landforms such as the Central Mountain Range. Therefore, the demand for East Coast train tickets has always been much higher than the number of tickets available, especially during holidays.