This morning I took my first ride on Taiwan’s new high speed train. I arrived at Banqiao Station early in the morning to catch the 7:25 train from Banqiao to Hsinchu. Even though the trains have already been operating for five days, there was a buzz of excitement as people waited to board the train.
Many people were busy at the front of the train snapping pictures. The sleek lines of the front of the train really are smooth and impressive. The photo above was taken at Xinzhu Station, not Banqiao where the platform is underground.
Time came to board the train. The first thing to note is the 2+3 seating. Although the seats are fairly narrow there is plenty of legroom and the aisle seems quite wide. Only tickets for the available seats are sold so there is no need to negotiate your way through crowds of standing passengers as is often the case on the Taiwan Railways trains.
As the train left the first thing I noticed was the very smooth ride. The acceleration is not particularly noticeable and there is very little noise. The section between Banqiao and Taoyuan passes through a number of tunnels and after just ten minutes the train was at Taoyuan Station.
After stopping for a few minutes there it then departed for the next stop, Hsinchu. I am not sure what the top speed was while I was travelling on the train. At well over 200 kilometres an hour the countryside whizzed by but there was no sensation of travelling extremely fast. I guess that is because the train is so quite and smooth.
When the train arrived at HsinchuI got off. I had two hours before I had to catch the train back to Banqiao. The Hsinchu Station is above ground and looks impressive and modern. The station has a Starbucks, MOS Burger and 7-Eleven so there are a few choices to grab a snack or a drink before you ride the train.
The area immediately around the train station seems very well organised. There are large car parks (nearly empty at the time of my visit) and parking bays for buses and taxis near the station entrance. A little further from the station though there is empty fields and construction sites. I imagine this area will be rapidly transformed into a new city in the next couple of years.
The photo above was taken just a short distance from the west side of the station. The crane looks a little lonely. I’d like to come back and take a photo from the same spot in one year. I am sure it will look very different.
The translation of this sign near the station is somewhat amusing. I would translate the Chinese as “pick up and drop off area”. Someone else obviously had another idea.
The only problem I experienced on the trip was on the return journey. I found someone else already had a ticket for my seat. I bought the ticket on Thursday after they had already been on sale for a couple of days. Obviously the problems with the ticketing is something that the HSR has to fix, especially before the sales of tickets for the Chinese New Year holiday period. There were plenty of vacant seats nearby, so it wasn’t a major problem for me.
Just three hours after my departure I arrived back at Banqiao Station. Overall I was very impressed by the experience and look forward to taking the high speed train again soon.
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