Today in Transportation History – 2007: Taiwan Gets a High Speed Railway System

After a couple of decades of planning and development, the first high-speed railway system in Taiwan made its public debut when two of the new line’s trains both departed from the Banqiao station in New Taipei City at 7:00 a.m. These trains, each traveling at 186 miles (300 kilometers) per hour, then made their way south towards the Zuoying station in Kaohsiung City. The trains arrived at the Zuoying station at 8:30 a.m., cutting the normal train travel time on that route by two-and-a-half hours.

The origins of this transit line can be traced to 1987 when the Executive Yuan (the executive branch of Taiwan’s government) directed the Ministry of Transportation to prepare a feasibility study for high-speed rail service in the western corridor of the island of Taiwan. This study was completed in 1990, and it recommended a high-speed rail line on that corridor as the best option for ensuring large transit ridership, low land use, high energy savings, and reduced pollution. The Preparation Office of High Speed Rail was established that same year, and a route for the new system was decided upon in 1991.

The efforts to put this high-speed rail service in place ran into a number of major delays and modifications over the next several years, with the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation established in 1998 to build and operate the line. In 2005, the first test runs finally took place for the THSR 700T electric multiple-unit trainsets manufactured in Japan for Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR).

The formal launch of THSR’s operations on January 5, 2007 – “marking a milestone in the nation’s transportation history,” according to the Taipei Times – was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm by many of the first passengers to use this service. “The train is history in the making,” said Liu Wen-ying in an Associated Press interview just before she boarded one of the orange-and-white THSR 700T coaches at the Banqiao station on that Friday morning, “and I can’t resist being present when history happens.”

THSR currently runs about 217 miles (349 kilometers) along the western coast of Taiwan between the Nangang station in the East Asian nation’s capital of Taipei (an enclave of New Taipei City) and the Zuoying station in Kaohsiung City.

For more information on Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR), please check out

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