The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA; ) is an agency of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of Taiwan responsible for managing, maintaining, and running passenger and freight services on 1097 km of conventional railroad lines in Taiwan (gauge: ). Since Taiwan is heavily urbanized with a high population density, railways have played an important part in domestic transportation since the late 19th century. Most of the main lines are fully electrified and service is generally efficient and reliable. In 2011, the system carried 205.8 million passengers, or 563,915 passengers per day.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Volume of Passenger Traffic )〕
The agency's headquarters are in Zhongzheng District, Taipei.〔"(Contact Us )." Taiwan Railways Administration. Retrieved on March 1, 2014. "ADD: No.3, Beiping W. Rd., Jhongjheng District, Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)(Zip Code10041)" - (Address in Chinese ): "機關地址：臺北市北平西路三號 （郵遞區號10041）"〕
Railway services between Keelung and Hsinchu began in 1891 under China’s Qing Dynasty.〔Taiwan Bureau of Tourism, Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Chapter 9, Taiwan Development History (“臺灣發展史”). In Tourism Training Material, Bureau of Tourism, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from http://22.214.171.124/台灣發展史/chop09-1.htm on April 15, 2010.〕 Completely rebuilt
and substantially expanded under Formosa’s Japanese colonial government (1895-1945), the network’s
Japanese influence and heritage persists.〔Kuan, Renjian (管仁健). Taiwan’s Chinese Education and Japanese Railroads (“台灣的中國教育與日本鐵路”). In The Taiwan You Don’t Know (Blog). Retrieved from http://mypaper.pchome.com.tw/kuan0416/post/1281895810 on July 9, 2010.〕 Similarities between the TRA and the Japan Railways (JR) companies can be noted in signal aspects, signage, track layout, fare controls, station architecture, and operating procedures. As Japan’s southern base during WWII, Taiwan’s railways suffered significant damage by Allied air raids. The Taiwan Railways Administration was founded in
1945 to reconstruct and operate railway infrastructure.〔Taiwan Railways Administration. Museum Pages: Taiwan Railways Development Timeline. (“博物館: 臺灣鐵路發展時段”) Retrieved from http://www.railway.gov.tw/i/i2_01.htm on July 9, 16 2010.〕
With ~13,500 employees (4,700 in transportation and 7,700 in maintenance titles), TRA is a government
organization under Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) that directly
operates 682 route miles of 3’6” (1,067 mm) gauge railways.〔Abbott, James (ed.) Jane’s World Railways, 38th Ed., Coulsdon, Surrey, England, 1996.〕 Three mainlines form a complete circle
around the island.〔http://amonline.trb.org/~searchResults?searchMode=advanced&searchParam-PaperNo=11-1301〕 TRA’s West Coast Mainline (WCML) and East Coast Mainline
(ECML) Badu-Hualien section features mostly double-track, electrification, modern colour light and cab
signalling, overrun protection, and centralized traffic control (CTC).〔Taiwan Railways Administration, Ministry of Transportation and Communications. TRA Signalling Equipment Maintenance Inspection Standard Operating Procedures (“交通部台灣鐵路管理局 號誌裝置養護檢查作業程序”), Banqiao, Taiwan, 2003. Retrieved from http://www.railway.gov.tw/admin/upload/kay00/號誌/號誌裝置養護檢查作業程序_公開.doc on February 16, 2010.〕 Southern Link Mainline,
ECML Hualien-Taitung (converted from 762 mm gauge), and three “tourist” branches are non-electrified
single-track with passing sidings.
Since the early 1980s, conventional railway capital improvements are nationally funded and managed by the
MOTC’s Railway Reconstruction Bureau, then turned over to TRA for operations.〔Railway Reconstruction Bureau, Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications. 2007 Annual Report Summary (“2007交通部鐵路改建工程局局務概況”). Retrieved from http://www.rrb.gov.tw/upload/documents/pubGov/鐵工局2007局務概況.pdf on July 11, 2010.〕 Taiwan’s
challenging terrain meant all lines feature extensive tunneling and long bridges. Double-tracking
frequently requires construction of parallel single-track railroads or bypass tunnels on new alignments.
The US$14.5 billion standard gauge high-speed rail (HSR) line was built and operated by a separate
public-private partnership under a 35-year concession,〔Wang, Shufen (汪淑芬). Government Rescues Taiwan High Speed Rail – Chen Shiyi Suggests Concession Extension. (“政府救高鐵 陳世圯建議延長特許期”). In Epoch Times, September 21, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.epochtimes.com/b5/9/9/21/n2663863.htm on July 13, 2010.〕 but TRA provides feeder services to HSR
terminals. Although TRA operates all commuter rail, other quasi-private organizations operate subways
in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Local and intercity passenger services (5am – 1am, very few overnight trains) operate at 95.3% on-time performance. 2008 annual passenger ridership was 179 million (incurring 5.45 billion passenger-miles),
generating US$434 million in revenue.〔Ministry of Transportation and Communication, Taiwan Railways Administration, Accounting Office. 2008 Statistical Annual Report. Banqiao, Taiwan, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.railway.gov.tw/intro/introduction-7.aspx on March 15, 2010.〕 Commuter trains carry 76% of riders (43% of passenger
miles). WCML carries >90% of ridership. TRA’s loose-car and unit-train bulk freight services haul
mainly aggregates (58% of tonnage), cement (26%), and coal (9%). In 2008, 9.5 million tons of freight
(481 million ton-miles) generated US$28.6 million in revenue. Limited container services operate
between Port of Hualien and suburban Taipei, but loading gauge restrictions preclude piggyback
operations. During typhoon season, small trucks are carried on flatcars when highways are closed by
flooding or mudslides.〔Rail News Speed Report. Typhoon Parma Impacts. In Taiwan Rail News, Volume 192, Page 30, Sanchong, Taiwan, November–December, 2009.〕
In years past, an extensive shipper-owned light railway network (762 mm gauge, never operated by
TRA) handled freight services throughout Taiwan and once boasted 1,800 route miles. Largely
abandoned today, it served important industries including sugar, logging, coal, salt, and minerals.〔Su, Jiao-Shi (蘇昭旭). Taiwan Railways Station Pictorial ("台灣鐵路車站圖誌", ISBN 978-986-7916-09-9). JJP Publishing, Taiwan, 2002.〕
Unlike JR East and Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway, revenues from ancillary businesses accounts
for only 17.8% of TRA’s revenues.〔Chen, Shiyi, and F.J. Huang (陳世圯,黃豐鑑). Government Should Proactively Promote Railroad Reform Bill to Assist TRA in Overcoming Financial Operating Difficulties (“政府應積極推動鐵路法修正案以協助台鐵渡過經營困境”). National Policy Research Foundation, Analysis Report 097-014. Retrieved from http://www.npf.org.tw/post/3/5178 on July 13, 2010.〕 TRA’s estimated farebox recovery ratio (including freight
operations) is ~40%.
Staffing costs, pension benefits, capital debt, changing demographics, highway competition, and low
fare policies resulted in accumulated deficits nearing US$3.3 billion.〔Tseng, Tsingnaw (曾鴻儒). Plentiful En-route Real Estate Revitalization and Economic Development/Urban Renewal Helps Taiwan Railways Administration to Recoup Losses (“沿線土地多 活化啟生機／都市更新 救台鐵虧損”). In Liberty Times, June 10, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/2010/new/jun/10/today-life7.htm on July 13, 2010.〕 Locally considered large and
problematic, TRA’s deficits pale in comparison to those incurred by European and U.S. transit agencies,
and Japan National Railways (JNR) prior to its 1987 privatization. Like JNR and U.S. transit authorities,〔Reddy, Alla, A. Lu, and T. Wang. Subway Productivity, Profitability, and Performance: A Tale of Five Cities. In Press, TRB Paper No. 10-0487. In Transportation Research Record 2143, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C, 2010.〕 interest payments on long-term debt represents a significant burden for TRA. Planning for TRA’s
restructuring had been underway since 2000.
Recent growth in the highway system and increased competition from bus companies and airlines has led to a decline in long-distance rail travel (except during major holidays such as Chinese New Year), though short and intermediate distance travel is still heavily utilized by commuters and students. The high-speed rail line is not run by TRA, and is also a major source of competition. To offset this TRA has begun placing an emphasis on tourism and short-distance commuter service. This has led to several special tourist trains running to scenic areas and hot springs, the addition of dining cars (originally deemed unnecessary due to Taiwan's relatively small size), and converting several smaller branch lines to attract tourists. Additionally, several new stations have been added in major metropolitan areas, and local commuter service increased. Its boxed lunches remain the company's most popular product with sales totaling NT$320 million (US$10.8 million) in 2010 (around 5% of its annual revenue).
On December 31, 2010, the TRA signed a NT$10.6 billion contract with Sumitomo Group and Nippon Sharyo to supply 17 tilting train sets capable of traveling . These eight-car electric multiple units (EMUs) will be delivered from 2012 to 2014 for service on ''Taroko Express'' services running between Taipei and Hualien on the Eastern Line. The system achieved a single day record on February 5, 2011 during Chinese New Year celebrations, transporting 724,000 passengers a day.
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