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June 28, 2017

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'Ghosts' not allowed to scare train passengers

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Keelung City's "Haunted Train" activity went ahead without causing much fear to passengers as "ghosts" were ordered to behave, yesterday.

The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) refused to give the green light to the Ghost Month activity, but still allowed the dressed-up ghost impersonators to board the Keelung-bound train in Taipei on the condition that they take off their masks, stay in the same car and refrain from disturbing other passengers.

But all eight well-behaved "ghosts" still received an exciting welcome upon arrival in Keelung, with people scrambling to have photos taken with them.

Keelung had announced the activity without obtaining approval from the TRA. Railway authorities said they could not agree to the event, fearing it would scare its passengers, particularly children.

The original plan was to have eight different ghosts — including Chinese, Japanese and Western — catch a train from Taipei to Keelung and have "interactions" with other passengers during the ride.

A parent, surnamed Lan, said his son was scared when he saw the ghosts coming out of the train station in Keelung, but he was able to calm him after explaining that they were not actually ghosts.

Other children were also scared by the "ghosts" and started crying.

However, many others still thought the event was lots of fun and expressed hopes that it could be held again next year, according to the Central News Agency.

Keelung's cultural director, Kuo Li-ya, expressed regret over the failure to present a fully fledged version of the activity.

But she thanked the TRA for allowing the "ghosts" to get on the train.

Asked if there were any regulations against transporting "ghosts," the TRA's Taipei section chief, Ku Shih-yen, said it was "difficult" to say.

But he admitted that the "ghosts" were not very scary because they had their masks off, and they kept talking to the press during the ride without disturbing the passengers.

Ku said the TRA objected to the activity out of the concern that it would violate passengers' rights. He said the TRA had told Keelung of its position and it was "regrettable" that the city still went ahead with the activity.

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