High speed trip to Hsinchu

Departure sign for train 401 from Banciao to Zuoying

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.

high speed train stopped at Xinzhu Station

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.

inside the carriage of a high speed train in taiwan

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.

view from the window of the high speed train between Banqiao and Taoyuan

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.

hsr train at the platform in Xinzhu Station

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.

High Speed Rail Xinzhu Station

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.

area near Xinzhu HSR Station in January 2007

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.

Kiss and Ride sign at HSR Xinzhu Station

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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I have created a photo set at flickr and a new photo gallery for my high speed rail photos.

17 thoughts on “High speed trip to Hsinchu

  1. Sounds great! I’m wondering about buying tickets. I see that line in Banqiao station in the mornings on my way to Taoyuan via the regular rail system and I’ve wondered just how long it takes to get through.

    Also, do you know if you need others’ ID if you want to book more than one seat?

  2. I queued for about forty minutes at Banqiao last Thursday. I think it took so long because the people in front of me had some problems with their tickets. I found purchasing the ticket was no problem and only took a couple of minutes. (I purchased from the counter not the automatic machines).

    I only bought a ticket for myself. I paid cash and didn’t need any ID. I don’t know if there is any requirement for ID for purchasing multiple tickets.

  3. Great analysis and photos. Seems to be similar to what I observed during my trip on the HSR to Taichung. I’m curious if you had a chance to look at some of the options for connecting to other types of transportation at Hsinchu?

  4. ㄟ,我以為上面有速度表ㄟ,因為我看我朋友拍回來的照片上面有顯示公里速啊!因為他們特地拍300公里/小時大家再歡呼的照片說

  5. Very exciting! I can’t wait to ride the THSR to Kaohsiung myself! As far as the “Kiss and Ride” sign, this is probably borrowed from the Americans. I’ve seen “Kiss and Ride” at metro stations and “Kiss and Fly” at airports in Atlanta, Georgia.

  6. 我有點失望因為我只有一次看到250公里/小時。那個螢幕也顯示氣象報告和下一站的名字。因為從板橋到新竹的時間不長沒時間顯示速度。

  7. Nice photos and write-up David! Thanks. Actually, I worked for the company that designed the ticketing software for a short time. All I can say is that I saw it coming. I had many meetings with the programmers about “what-if’s”, but it seemed like they were too busy to just get the basics finished. In fairness to them, it was a big project and several companies had to work together to coordinate the details.

    I’m wondering if the excitement is from the discount tickets now or if there is real interest. From the feedback I’ve been hearing, many people were worried about the safety and would wait a year before they rode the train. I hope for everyone’s sake the THSRC management can smooth out all the details and make this a safe transportation alternative. I may go to Tainan on
    it next week.

  8. When the Muzha MRT line first opened, many were worried about how safe it would be. There was a lot of talk then of waiting six months or a year to ride it.

    Chen Shui-bian, who was mayor at the time, had them run an empty MRT train at full speed around one of the bends to show that it wouldn’t tip over. (Not a good idea; but it worked out OK.) After that many people felt reassured. But I don’t think anyone’s going to be willing to try that with the high-speed train!

  9. hi! David, I took the THSRD to Tainan last Friday and if I remembered right, the staff says the speed does reach 300km/hr after Taichung (from Taichung to Chayi and from Chayi to Tainan). But because the screen also shows the weather so you got to be lucky to see 300 on the screen. On my way, even I can feel that the train is speeding up and probably around 300, the fastest speed I saw is also around 297.

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