The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) officially launched its new EMU3000 intercity express train, which is the railway operator's only model with business-class seats, with a special trip from Taitung Station in southeastern Taiwan to Shulin Station in New Taipei on Sunday.
The new EMU3000 trains, which offer more seats than existing express services, are part of the government's plan to improve highways and railways in eastern Taiwan, Premier Su Tseng-chang (???) said at a ceremony at Taitung Station, located in the county of the same name, before the trip.
Each EMU3000 train, which was built by Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, has 538 seats in 12 cars, including one car with 30 business-class seats, according to the TRA.
This means the train has 40 percent more seats compared to the Taroko and Puyuma express trains which have eight cars, said Liu Chao-hao (???) -- the legislator for Taitung County -- at the ceremony, which was also attended by Taitung County Magistrate Yao Ching-ling (???).
Liu invited 200 Taitung residents to travel on part of Sunday's journey with Su, Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (???), and Mitsuaki Hoshino, a deputy representative of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association. The residents disembarked at Chishang, in the northern part of Taitung.
According to the TRA, the new train will be deployed for three daily return services between Shulin and Taitung, starting on Dec. 29.
The train used for Sunday's special service was delivered on July 30 and certified for operations on Dec. 21, according to the TRA.
The TRA said that by the end of this year, it expects to have received seven out of 50 trains ordered from Hitachi.
Tickets for regular seats on the new train, which is listed as "Tze-Chiang Ltd. Express (3000)" on the TRA website, went on sale on Dec. 1, while tickets for the business-class seats became available on Dec. 15.
A single business-class ticket between Taipei and Taitung costs NT$1,145 (US$41.30), while a regular ticket for the same journey on the EMU3000 train or on other express trains costs NT$783, according to the TRA.
Passengers with a business-class ticket will be offered a drink and a food item free of charge.
The food items available on the new train include boxed meals, crackers, ice cream, and cakes, the TRA said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel