TRA upgrades scenic train to ‘five-star moving restaurant’

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) will upgrade a scenic train it operates in eastern Taiwan to include fine cuisine in a dining car touted as a "five-star moving restaurant" from March 30, the TRA said Wednesday.

The "Future Express," a refurbished Chu-kuang Express train, will take 54 passengers on either a one-day or two-day trip to the east coast with gourmet food featured during the journey, said Lion Travel, which the TRA has commissioned to provide the service.

"It will be the first 'aesthetic train' in Taiwan that provides passengers with fine dining on the move," said Lion Travel President Yu Kuo-chen (???) at a promotional event.

Yu said the seven-carriage train will be roughly divided into a dining area and a sightseeing area, each with 54 seats.

The train will depart from Nangang Station in Taipei and take passengers on a one-day trip to Hualien for NT$15,800 (US$567) or a two-day trip to Taitung for NT$37,900.

On the Hualien trip passengers receive a five-course set meal prepared by the Silks Hotel Group on the outbound journey that "echos with the scenery," Yu said.

On arrival there are several excursions for passengers to choose from, he said, and on the Taitung trip, there are two five-course set meals and an overnight stay at a local hotel.

For instance, when the train reaches Yilan, fresh seafood from local Su'ao Port will be provided, while dessert made from Hualien-grown sweet potatoes is available when the county is close, Yu explained.

The culinary journey has been well-received, Yu said, noting that tours from March to June were sold out in 15 minutes after they went on sale Feb. 22.

Tours from July to September can be booked from March 15, he added.

Also attending the event, TRA Director-General Tu Wei (??) said his agency has high hopes for the "Future Express," which was inaugurated in late 2020 to boost railway travel.

The train comes with a nostalgic vibe as its black and orange exterior harks back to an older era of Taiwanese train travel, when many of the train designs used black as a prominent color.

Meanwhile, the interior design of the dining car in the 50-year-old train incorporates both Western and Taiwanese elements, the latter including bamboo rattan chairs.

Although Taiwan remains under the threat of COVID-19, the scenic train packages served 58 tourist groups last year, generating about NT$140 million, Tu said.

The TRA plans to work with Lion Travel to offer tours that integrate train and bike travel later this year.

After Taiwan lifts border controls, Yu added, the "Future Express" will reserve seats for foreign tourists to further enhance Taiwan's international profile as a travel destination.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel