Minister pledges no train fare hike for 1 year

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Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan, right, answers questions at the Legislative Yuan in this file photo from Oct. 27, 2017. The minister pledged Monday that Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) tickets will not increase in price for at least one year, promising no price hike until service improvements are made. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) – Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) pledged Monday that Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) tickets will not increase in price for at least one year, promising no price hike until service improvements are made.

Ho made the promise to lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan, who complained about frequent railway accidents over the past year, including three in one night the previous day that affected thousands of passengers.

Although TRA has not raised ticket prices for 22 years, the service the administration offers is not highly respected due to frequent incidents that indicate poor operational management, criticized lawmaker Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“People have a bad impression of TRA,” Lin said, demanding the administration improve the service it offers before asking for a fare hike.

The domestic railway train service operator was reported last week to have drawn up a plan to raise fares by about 20 percent on its Tze-Chiang Limited Express (自強號) and an average of 7.5 percent on slow trains.

The reported plan drew criticism with some people arguing that such a hike would increase the cost of a single Tze-Chiang Express train trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung to more than NT$1,000 (US$33), narrowing the price differential with Taiwan High Speed Rail.

On Sunday evening passengers on TRA trains were delayed by three separate incidents.

In one of those an electricity transmission cable snapped and fell onto the rail line between Tainan City and Bao’an Station; a rail line between New Taipei’s Gongliao and Yilan County’s Dali Station was struck by a power outage; and, a signal device broke down at Zhunan Station in Miaoli County.

Only a few days earlier, a Puyuma Express train derailed in Hualien County, forcing 300 passengers to disembark and walk along the tracks.

As of Monday, there have been seven incidents involving TRA train derailments this year, lawmakers noted. 

By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu

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