Wednesday, January 03, 2007

High Speed Chaos

Ticket demand for the High Speed Railway test runs was in high demand yesterday....

To encourage more people to try the new rail system, the company announced last week that it would offer a 50 percent discount on the fares for the test runs and would also sell 50,000 commemorative tickets.

Apparently attracted by the reduced prices or the novelty of the new rail system, people started to line up in front of the ticket booths at every THSRC station on Monday evening in the hopes of being among the first passengers of the nation's first north-south high-speed railway.


"We expect to sell 30,000 tickets a day ? obviously we underestimated demand," Ou said.


As of 8pm, THSRC said it had sold 81,168 tickets.

If real demand reflects this, then I will have to eat a heaping helping of corvus, since I have long thought this train was a waste of money. But hopefully this demand will be sustained. Nostalgiaphile rounded up some media links:

Today, the Liberty Times ran several articles about the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) which opened yesterday. One is titled "HSR fails its first class" (because of the chaos and counter help) one is about "High-speed Rail One" (about Ah-bian's ride on HSR), another is titled "Listen to me, HSRC!" (someone complaining about the ticket machines), and still another announces "HSRC sells 80,000 tickets on its opening day."

Hai Tien at the great blog The Bala Daily describes his own experiences attempting to get a ticket:

It's a testament to the power of the media here how much hysteria they've been able to whip up regarding the soon to be opened Taiwan High Speed Rail system. Every detail of the construction of THSR has been carefully scrutinized by the media and promptly reinterpreted in the worst possible light.

Consequently my folks are convinced that the first train out of Banciao Station will derail, burst into flame, and be struck by a meteor. And I will lie there blooded and dying while a TVBS reporter shoves a microphone into my face screaming "先生!你現在感覺如何?"


And so, that is how I ended up with round trip standard class tickets from Banciao to Taichung for opening day (this Friday) for a total cost of NT$670 (US$20.57), though I did miss out on the commemorative tickets being sold yesterday. If all goes well, the trip to Taichung should take about 55 minutes there and back again, with 2 hours for me to poke around THSR Taichung Station (which I am told is located out in the boonies somewhere). I'll be gone from Taipei after breakfast and be back in time for lunch. Cool.


david on formosa said...

The biggest failure is not that there is anything wrong with the railway system itself. It will be nothing less than the state of the art.

The big problem is that most of the stations are outside the centre of the cities they serve. There is a lack of connecting infrastructure with the exception of the Taipei end.

It won't be until the Airport MRT link and Kaohsiung MRT connect with the HSR that the real benefits of the system will be experienced. This is still a few years away.

Also, I fear for what will happen in the areas around the stations. Hopefully there will be some thoughtful and even visionary development, but I have my doubts.

Hai Tien said...

Thanks for the comment and the mention. I was intially somewhat hopeful regarding Wu Erh when I noticed there was a TTL brewery there, but it seems that its a bit far from the station. Ah well, the station architecture looks interesting.

I'm nearing the end of my winter break time here so odds are I won't be able to join you guys at the Swenson's meet. There'll be more chances in the future I'm sure. Till then, I'll be hanging around in cyberspace.

Anonymous said...

The "boonies" provide a lot of benefits over already heavily populated areas. There is at least opportunity to build wide streets, provide ample parking, public transport infrastructure and perhaps visionary development. These kinds of opportunities are definitely not feasible in already built up areas. Also, I live at least 5 kilometers away from the HSR line and I can still hear it at night.

HSR is very new and I don't think people quite no what to do with it yet. Local bus operators and scooter/car rental will most likely take up the slack as far as connecting infrastructure. Until then my friends will have to come get me from the station. I can't wait to have a ride.

Anonymous said...

You're going to eat a helping of raven?