High speed rail: the wait is over

HSR ticket sales counter and queue at Banqiao Station

Ticket sales counter for the HSR at Banqiao Station

Finally, after months of delays and uncertainty surrounding Taiwan's High Speed Rail project it will open tomorrow. 

A number of other blogs have written about the upcoming opening. The Bala Daily reports on buying a ticket at Taipei Station. Nostalgiphile links to some articles from the Chinese language press. Michael Turton also has something to say about it.

There is also plenty being written about it in the papers. A good article in the International Herald Tribune details some of the challenges the train faces if it is to be a success. 

After a quarter-century of planning and construction, the system is finally scheduled to open Friday. It will tie together cities and towns holding 94 percent of Taiwan the island's population, offering an alternative to clogged highways and the air pollution they produce.

For some urban planners and environmentalists, the project is an example of how Asia may be able to control oil imports, curb fast-rising emissions of global-warming gases and bring a higher standard of living to enormous numbers of people in an environmentally sustainable way.

The Taiwan News reports that tickets for the first two weekends of operation (6,7,13 and 14 January) have already sold out. The Taipei Times notes the problems with ticket sales. 

It is inevitable that when commissioning a new system like this there are bound to be a few problems. However, I suspect the major problem that will emerge over the next few months will not be in the actual rail system itself. It will be related to most of the stations being remote from the centre of the cities they serve. It is only in Taipei that the system will integrate seamlessly with the MRT and Taiwan Railways.  

The long term success of the HSR really depends on thoughtful development of the areas around the stations and good transport links between the stations and the nearby city centres. The Kaohsiung MRT is expected to open later this year. However, the Airport MRT link which will connect the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport with the Taoyuan and Taipei HSR Stations won't be open until at least 2011.

The HSR system operating at full capacity may significantly reduce the traffic on the north-south freeways. However, it is quite possible that traffic congestion could increase in the areas around the stations and between the stations and city centres. It is vital that the government makes it a priority to ensure development around the stations occurs in an carefully planned way. The further development of mass rapid transit systems outside Taipei and Kaohsiung is also very important. 

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I went to Banqiao Station this morning and bought tickets for the HSR early next week. Watch this space for some more photos and a full report on the ride.

Ticket gates for the HSR at Banqiao Station

Ticket gates for the HSR at Banqiao Station 

7 thoughts on “High speed rail: the wait is over

  1. Thanks for the update! I’ve been hearing lots of negative press about the THSR but I’m confident the kinks will be worked out in time. People just need to be a little patient. Do you have any idea when the Taoyuan Airport MRT will be completed? That would make life a whole lot easier.

  2. According to the Dept of Rapid Transit Systems website the Airport MRT link will be completed in August 2012. I mentioned 2011 above. Construction commenced in October 2006. So it still looks to be five or six years away.

    I assume the Taoyuan and Taipei sections will be completed at the same time since it is a continuous line, but I could be wrong.

  3. Oh sorry, I misunderstood! I thought you meant the Taoyuan Airport MRT would be connected to the THSR in 2011. Now I see both things will happen at the same time. Still a long way off. 🙁

  4. Pingback: Taiwan Pundit » More on the train

  5. From what I read this is the trial run and it will close again on the 19th of January, though I am unsure of this. It is said that it will reopen for February. At that time, the HSR part of Taipei Main Station will open.

  6. Mahesh, there have been some problems with the ticketing system and initially tickets were not being sold online. I am not sure of the exact situation at the moment, but you could check the THSRC website to see if tickets are being sold.

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