TRA takes delivery of 'most beautiful' commuter train
Hualien, Oct. 24 (CNA) The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) on Saturday took delivery of two of the 52 new commuter trains it has ordered from abroad and called them the "most beautiful local trains" it has had in its history.
The EMU900 trains, painted in silver and green, feature a streamlined body with soft curves, and their interiors have been carefully designed to meet the needs of commuters, said TRA Director-General Chang Chen-yuan (張政源).
Each of the trains is equipped with 436 seats and 1,323 standing spaces in 10 carriages, a 40% increase in passenger capacity compared with the current EMU700/800 models, Chang said.
The new trains are expected to provide better service for commuters, who account for 80% of its passengers, Chang said at a ceremony in Hualien Port, where the Korean-made trains were delivered.
They will be tested before the Lunar New Year in 2021 and then put into service between Taipei and Hsinchu in northern Taiwan, the administration said.
Delivery of the 52 trains, which are being built by Hyundai Rotem and cost the TRA a combined NT$25.3 billion (US$879 million), will be completed by 2023.
Following the two delivered Saturday, 10 more will be delivered in 2021, another 12 will come in 2022, and the last 28 will be delivered in 2023, Chang said.
Passengers will experience increased accessibility on the new EMU900, which will double the wheelchair seats to eight per train, and there will also be specially-designed seats for pregnant women and bike riders to place their bikes, he said.
The new trains have been criticized for only having three restrooms compared with four on existing commuter trains, but the TRA said it decided to optimize the space to cater to short-haul passenger demand.
To celebrate the occasion, the TRA ran its 79-year-old DT668 locomotive to the ceremony held at the port, getting the attention of railroad fans.
Chang Yi-fan (張貽帆), head of a student railway club at National Chiao Tung University, traveled all the way from Hsinchu to Hualien to capture the moment when the legendary locomotive met the new-generation train.
"I was moved," he said. "This is an important moment not only for railway buffs but also for people interested in Taiwanese culture and history."
Himself a commuter, Chang said he hopes the new cars will provide travelers more room to make travel more comfortable.
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