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Main Topic: The Taiwan Railway

Hosts: James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

While Taiwan is well served by local airports and roads the train makes a perfect choice to move around Taiwan. There are plenty of choice in terms of class and speed. Slow commuter trains stop and all local stations whilst the fast train moves passengers between large cities at a comfortable speed. Multiple trains every hour mean work well for all schedules and mean that on train crowding is rarely uncomfortable. The price too, is reasonable, especially as car travel costs keep rising. Once on a train it will not be long before you hear the invitation to buy a lunch box. They are good value and highly popular. Taiwan rail even sells the original steel lunch box as a souvenir.

Taiwan Train
Train Platform

Buying tickets is straightfoward with cash a credit card both accepted. However given Taiwan is home to so much technology expertise it is suprising that e-passes (like the Octapus system in Hong Kong) is taking time to be adopted. Each department (e.g., the customer service desk and ticket sales) all operate very independently. So customers are often asked to move around in the train station as they solve any problems they may have. James, for example, seeking a refund on a season ticket started with an enquiry at the customer service desk. That led to a referral to 'ticket window two' who could deal with the problem. Ticket window two could not help but once he reached ticket window eight (who had the required machine) the transaction was quickly dealt with. This lack of interconnection is fairly typical to many Chinese organizations.

Both James and Clyde have seen the train as a second home while travelling up and down, in opposite directions, between Tainan and Taichung. With notebook computers in our luggage the train quickly becomes a productive office space. All that is needed is an internet connection and we could be doing the podcast from the train!

In Taiwan, the train fare is affordable and convenient.

The Show:

Length: 40 minutes. Download MP3 18.29MB (Right click->Save As).


Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • Trains are a popular mode of transport among students, travelers and intercity commuters.
  • The space of parking bays for motor bikes are well utilized.
  • Started in 1998, online booking became available. However tickets are still paper based and are only slowly migrating over to electronic ticketing systems.
  • Consumers were to pick up the ticket within 24 hours from the station or the post office (the post office is like a bank).
  • If you miss your train, standby seats are available for the next train.
  • Smoking is banned on the train.
  • While many of the individual systems work well (like buying a ticket) they are not well integrated between staff and departments (only one staff sells seasons tickets and other others don't know about either the ticket nor the IT systems that go with it).
  • The types of train are offered in fast, normal, and slow speed. It’s available in the costal/mountain line.
Category: Podcasts

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