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Steam railway makes nostalgic return on mountain line

TAIPEI -- The old CK124 steam engine sounded its horn at Sanyi Railway Station in Miaoli County yesterday, signaling to the train's 300 passengers and other train aficionados around the country that service on a historic railway line in Taiwan had resumed.

“This is the train I took when I was little,” said a 55-year-old grandmother when describing the old locomotive to her eight-year-old grandson at the station.

The passenger, identified only by the surname Huang, said she had eagerly awaited the reopening of the 15.9-kilometer-long Old Mountain Line between Sanyi and Houli in Taichung County for 12 years, since the rail line's operations were suspended in 1998.

Her 94-year-old mother has still not forgotten the sound of trains on the railway line running through the hills of central Taiwan, Huang said.

To attract tourists, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) spent nearly NT$200 million (US$6.16 million) to restore the tracks and facilities along the line, which passes many historic sites, including the Broken Longteng Bridge and the nearby Shengsing station built during the Japanese colonial era.

The project has managed to restore service on 13.6 kilometers of the line thus far, from Sanyi to Taian Station in Taichung County, according to the TRA.

On Saturday the old steam train made two round trips. It will be back in service on June 9, each Wednesday in July and August, and August 29, with two round-trip runs per day. In addition, the TRA will also offer services by a diesel-powered train every Monday and Friday between July 5 and Aug. 27, with two round-trip runs per day.

The timetable for the line can be found on the TRA's website.

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 Steam railway makes nostalgic return on mountain line 
A woman looks out the window of an old CK124 steam train at beautiful scenes of the Yutengping Broken Bridge (魚藤坪斷橋). Old steam train service resumed on a historic railway line in Taiwan yesterday .(CNA)

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