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(Short): The Taiwan High Speed Rail Experience

 
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject: (Short): The Taiwan High Speed Rail Experience Reply with quote

The story so far:
We had arrived into Hong Kong after a 4 year gap on SQ's A330 and A380, which led to some unfortunate and unnecessary drama, due to positive vibes in Hong Kong. Once the drama was overcome, it was time to head for Taiwan, on the ultra rare (outside the US, at least) MD-90 aircraft. Taipei was most certainly a fun experience, but it ended much too soon. It was time to get to the airport….

THSR #653 TAIPEI MAIN-TAOYUAN 25TH AUGUST 2014
BOOKING AND ALL
THSR opens booking for its trains exactly 4 weeks, 28 days before date of intended departure. And with that, there were a couple of early bird discounts. There was only one train with the maximum discount: 35% on the 1236 departure train to Zuoying. With the discounts, the ticket price for 3 passengers came to NTD330 (INR660 for 3). An awry looking voucher was sent to us, tickets could be collected at the Taipei Main Station or any 7-Eleven store.

THE DAY!
Obviously, being an aviation fanatic, I was extremely excited for the (hopefully!) Boeing 747 flight coming up! But then, I admit. The slight rail fan in me came alive as I most certainly was looking forward to this high-speed experience!
We were running on severe time constraints when we got to the hotel. Luckily though, we didn't use any other service as such, so there was no need for any payment. Finding a taxi though...was a pain. The helpful lady at the reception wrote something along the lines of 'Hello, we want to go the Taipei Main Station.' It was 1152 when we finally left the hotel. The train would depart in 36 minutes. I was uncertain as to how long the cab would take to get to the station! However though, I knew what the station looked like from the outside.....ginormous.
And just 10 minutes after we left the hotel, we were stuck at a traffic light. And I saw this majestic building:

Taipei Main Station!
We reached there, with about exactly 30 minutes to spare. Perhaps, enough time to spare. In the rush, I realized that the big suitcase I was puling around wasn't with me! Great, another round of panic, ugh! But then Mum told me with a 'WTF is wrong with you' face, 'You are pulling it around. This is not a good time for the jokes!' Well, my bad, hehe Laughing

The inside of the Taipei Main Station...I'd describe it as a combination of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel (Colombo) and the Mumbai C.S.T Station. Don't ask me why, but those were my first thoughts when I saw it. Rolling Eyes


I asked at an information center about the THSR ticket collection - the helpful guy gave me exact directions to get there...and when we did get there, the line was...shocking. With barely 25 minutes to spare, we really were playing for time. The next train would depart a whole half an hour after the intended train! The line though...moved quickly enough, except for 1 or 2 people/groups of people who took about 5 minutes in line. With about 13 minutes to spare, we got our tickets and kinda rushed for Platform 2B. And when we got there....there she was! The orange and white THSR 700T rake (based on the Shinkansen 700 series). We went past the Business Class Coach 6, and reached Coach 5, our coach. Seats 5A/B/C for us. We were onboard at 1226, 10 minutes to spare. Whew!

The cabin felt very spacious, especially with the 40 inch legroom...really puts ALL airplane Y seats to shame! Razz




Another rake came and stopped beside us. Then we learnt that the seats could be rotated 180 degree, so that they are in the right way, according to direction! Razz
I headed off for the washroom....very airplane like, except the fact that the toilet itself wasn't a vacuum, that's about it.






Found the vending machine in our coach - nice! Very Happy


Still have time to spare!


B.o.B menu




Safety instructions


Entertainment menu!





So much recline...massive window!

Exactly at 1236, the train started to move slowly, and gently started gathering speed underground only as we heard Banqiao station. Perhaps, the highest speed we reached here was about 100 to 120 kmh, I cannot be sure. But that's what I felt. We soon reached Banqiao where there were quite a few passengers who boarded the train. About a 2-3 minute stop later, the train then sped away into the sunshine as we saw a bit of the Taiwan country side in the day. Incredibly smooth and quiet, all you can hear is the sound of people chattering or snoring, and the light whine of the increasing speed of the train. But that happens in every Electrical Multiple Unit anyways so...
The B.o.B service began...obviously not enough time for us! We are lucky to have another train pass by...and that barely took 2-3 seconds! I took a look at the information display...






At one point, we were at 200kmph. And despite this, the train kept getting quicker! Surely, we were close to 250kmph at one point, if not, more! It just amazed me how smooth this train was! However though, the experience soon came to an end as we passed tunnel after tunnel until eventually....we slowed down for Taoyuan station. The experience came to an end as we got off the train...and we waited for a bit.
You see, I wanted to see a pretty face. The A380's ugly egg head scarred me a little, so I waited for #653 to depart, and get a few pictures. Yes, that did attract the security's attention a bit, but nothing too serious. More smiles along the way Smile









SO NICE!!!! SurprisedSurprised
The train soon deaprted at 1258 hours, our journey lasted 19 minutes. It was now time for taking the airport shuttle bus.


China Airlines and a few others have their check in service right here....not EVA though. The bus ticket for the 3 of us costed NTD90.


I slept for a bit on the bus, as we finally reached terminal 2 of the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport.

Now, the important price calculation:
The taxi direct from airport to hotel costed us: INR2080.
The HSR and airport shuttle costed us: INR660 + INR90 = INR750. And even if you remove the discounts and add the taxi fare from the hotel to the station, the cost was still under INR1600. So really, best is you take a day flight into TPE. Yeah.

So much for this short and sweet experience!
In the next part: the Queen of the Skies, that too a rare one on a combination version of the plane.

Regards
Jish
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Last edited by jbalonso777 on Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR. I wish I could see our own IR someday like this. Hopefully in my life time...

Loved reading your report.

Cheers
Shivendra
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome...I could not help comparing this with my own experiences in high speed trains, only two thus far: the KTH in Korea, and the TGV in France. I regret missing the Shinkasen in Japan. It is always fantastic to ride on a bullet train. It is equally fantastic to read about Jishnu's experiences, written in his inimitable manner!
180 degree rotating seats! The train looks very neat and clean, and quite like an aircraft from the interior as well as the exterior, albeit being much more spacious. Great pictures, as usual, along with very interesting descriptions. Like Shukla-ji, I am eagerly waiting to hear about your unique B744 Combi experience. I have never been on one myself: I have simply gawked at the AOG-prone VT-AIM `Sundarbans' off to LAX from FRA, when I had got down from `Ajanta', in September 2007.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

shivendrashukla wrote:
Nice TR. I wish I could see our own IR someday like this. Hopefully in my life time...

Loved reading your report.

Cheers
Shivendra

Hey Shivendra, thanks for your reply!
Yes, probably somethings in IR might not work out as well as it does in the other countries with HSR, but the fact that there is a proposal for a HSR on the BOM-AMD segment is itself quite big, and I look forward to the implementation of this, hopefully soon! Very Happy
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Awesome...I could not help comparing this with my own experiences in high speed trains, only two thus far: the KTH in Korea, and the TGV in France. I regret missing the Shinkasen in Japan. It is always fantastic to ride on a bullet train. It is equally fantastic to read about Jishnu's experiences, written in his inimitable manner!
180 degree rotating seats! The train looks very neat and clean, and quite like an aircraft from the interior as well as the exterior, albeit being much more spacious. Great pictures, as usual, along with very interesting descriptions. Like Shukla-ji, I am eagerly waiting to hear about your unique B744 Combi experience. I have never been on one myself: I have simply gawked at the AOG-prone VT-AIM `Sundarbans' off to LAX from FRA, when I had got down from `Ajanta', in September 2007.
Cheers, Sumantra.

Ah ha, I remembered your Korea TR (Daejeon - Digene!) while on the THSR! I guess the Shinkansen is next on my list, I doubt if I want to go on the TGV..the original High Speed Rail?
And thank you for your lovely words Very Happy

The 747: I'm sure back then when you saw, it was STILL the largest commercial passenger bird flying (A380 came in a few months later)... I believe that while A380 is an undisputed mammoth, the B747 is one majestic bird, something the A380 can NEVER achieve....more so because of its ugly egg head Razz
Its sad the 747s are disappearing fast, but airlines have to keep with the times Sad Like you, all I did was stare at the B74E when I saw it...more so because I was closer to the B74E nose in TPE than the A380 nose in SIN, more on that soon!

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
sumantra wrote:
Like Shukla-ji, I am eagerly waiting to hear about your unique B744 Combi experience. I have never been on one myself: I have simply gawked at the AOG-prone VT-AIM `Sundarbans' off to LAX from FRA, when I had got down from `Ajanta', in September 2007.
Cheers, Sumantra.

Ah ha, I remembered your Korea TR (Daejeon - Digene!) while on the THSR!
Sir, thank you for remembering me, and that TR, in such level of detail!
jbalonso777 wrote:
The 747: I'm sure back then when you saw, it was STILL the largest commercial passenger bird flying
Yes, Sir: while I have been on 747s before, I have never been on an 747-Combi: that is one exotic bird. Air India had (two?) leased B743-Combis at one point in time, but only one B744-Combi: `Sundarbans', which was completely jinxed, and went back to Air Canada, after the lease was over. AI had put this on the BOM-FRA-LAX route, which turned out to be a nightmare for AI (both the plane, as well as the route). My 747 wish-list includes the refurbished AI B744s, which are not an easy option for a Delhi-based traveller, who only does official trips. I have been on the non-refurbished `Sanchi' (VT-AIC, the old ex-KE lease one), `Ajanta', and `Agra' (VT-EVA). Other B744 experience: Cathay (horrible). I've been on B742s of British Airways, Northwest Orient, SAS, and perhaps a few more, which escape my memory right now.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like a nice, clean, quick journey - thanks for sharing.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Yes, Sir: while I have been on 747s before, I have never been on an 747-Combi: that is one exotic bird. Air India had (two?) leased B743-Combis at one point in time, but only one B744-Combi: `Sundarbans', which was completely jinxed, and went back to Air Canada, after the lease was over. AI had put this on the BOM-FRA-LAX route, which turned out to be a nightmare for AI (both the plane, as well as the route). My 747 wish-list includes the refurbished AI B744s, which are not an easy option for a Delhi-based traveller, who only does official trips. I have been on the non-refurbished `Sanchi' (VT-AIC, the old ex-KE lease one), `Ajanta', and `Agra' (VT-EVA). Other B744 experience: Cathay (horrible). I've been on B742s of British Airways, Northwest Orient, SAS, and perhaps a few more, which escape my memory right now.
Cheers, Sumantra.

I remember seeing VT-EPX in a rather sorry state once while departing from BOM. She was noseless. There were plenty of other 747s without any significant parts on the fuselages. These birds are going away really too soon.
Hmm, AI's refurbished 744..they are there on BOM-HYD-BOM, quite far off from DEL. But they sure are interesting birds to be on anyways! VT-EVA...well, Ive been on a EVA 747, still counts! Razz
Hahaha, horrible Cathay experience. Why am I not surprised? Laughing
Wow, you sure have been on plenty of B747s, and now here I am with only one 747 flight done, that too lasting 1hr12min.

Nimish wrote:
Looks like a nice, clean, quick journey - thanks for sharing.

Also perhaps the most cost effective and efficient way along Taiwan's western coast Smile

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
VT-EVA...well, Ive been on a EVA 747, still counts!
I knew you would catch that one, hence I put up the registration VT-EVA as well. I normally like to refer to planes by their official names. I liked your Eva and Wall-E one!
jbalonso777 wrote:
Hahaha, horrible Cathay experience. Why am I not surprised?
We all know about that! The bad part of my experience was very tight legroom, bad IFE choices (quality, quantity), and non-seriousness about food.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice little micro TR.

If all goes well, I should be on one of those THSR trains in a few months. But, hush now, you tell no one!

Unfortunately, I seem to have missed this but how long does the train take to get to the airport?

Thanks for posting!

Aditya
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ameya
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Jishnu for the TR.

I am amazed by the 180 degree seat rotation, I wish they have that in India. Knowing our crowd,
the seat may be broken because somebody will keep rotating for the entire journey!

Enjoyed the pictures.

Would be a good idea to show the speed inside the compartment and people clicking photos next to it like they used to do in Concorde !
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Aditya, thank you for your reply!

Wow, did I manage to persuade someone to visit a rather not-so-frequently visited by Indians country through my TRs or was it planned beforehand? Very Happy

I think I mentioned it, but anyways, it was a nice clean 19 minute ride on the train, from the moment we departed Taipei Main Station, the stop at Banqiao and stopping at Taoyuan station.

Regards
Jish
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your words, Ameya sir! Very Happy
Yes, we stand no chance with the 180 degree seat rotation, they'd be broken, beat and scarred in no time Shocked
Sir, they do have information displays, which is where I found out that we were traveling at 200kmph. But then again, the journey was too short for me to take a picture of that Sad

Again, thank you for your reply! Very Happy

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ameya wrote:
I am amazed by the 180 degree seat rotation, I wish they have that in India.
They might have existed on some of the old Air India Regional AT4s that were falling apart from the inside, before they were returned. From the auto-recline seats, to 180 degree lie-flats, all may have existed to various degrees of compliance, I dare say there might have been lateral rotation as well. I guess Air India Regional operated them till they were able to rotate...er, the right way.

ameya wrote:
Would be a good idea to show the speed inside the compartment and people clicking photos next to it like they used to do in Concorde !
It was there on the Korean KTX, and much to my emabrassment, I was the only one getting up excitedly, staring at the monitor, and clicking pictures. No wonder Korea has earned the sobriquet of `The Land of the Morning Calm'.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
It was there on the Korean KTX, and much to my emabrassment, I was the only one getting up excitedly, staring at the monitor, and clicking pictures. No wonder Korea has earned the sobriquet of `The Land of the Morning Calm'.

The normal people around would never know what we freaks are curious in. Its a whole new world Very Happy
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Wow, did I manage to persuade someone to visit a rather not-so-frequently visited by Indians country through my TRs or was it planned beforehand?


Unfortunately not, it was planned earlier. But, now I'm surely looking forward to the THSR experience after your TR!

Quote:
They might have existed on some of the old Air India Regional AT4s that were falling apart from the inside, before they were returned. From the auto-recline seats, to 180 degree lie-flats, all may have existed to various degrees of compliance, I dare say there might have been lateral rotation as well. I guess Air India Regional operated them till they were able to rotate...er, the right way.


Haha, LOL! Very Happy Aptly said sir.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Unfortunately not, it was planned earlier. But, now I'm surely looking forward to the THSR experience after your TR!

And I look forward to that TR! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for posting another unique travel experience. One thing that India needs desperately is good quality high speed style train services connecting important cities, and I hope we are able to see at least some routes in our lifetime. Of course this will put some of the domestic air routes out of business, as my colleagues in Taiwan tell me that once the HSR came in 80% of Taiwan’s domestic flights stopped functioning.

The rotating seats was an interesting option never heard of something like this before. The food option and vending machine was a nice touch as well.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sri_bom wrote:
Thank you for posting another unique travel experience. One thing that India needs desperately is good quality high speed style train services connecting important cities, and I hope we are able to see at least some routes in our lifetime. Of course this will put some of the domestic air routes out of business, as my colleagues in Taiwan tell me that once the HSR came in 80% of Taiwan’s domestic flights stopped functioning.

The rotating seats was an interesting option never heard of something like this before. The food option and vending machine was a nice touch as well.

Thank you for your reply! Yes, the THSR has indeed stolen the market from the domestic flights - Shongsan Airport was empty on Monday morning! True, it will kill our airlines even more....

Regards
Jish
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