By Stephanie Chao, the Eye on Taiwan staff writer
Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the railway authorities to develop the Jiji (集集) railway line in central Taiwan as a new tourist hotspot.
A ceremony for signing the MOU, hosted on Jan. 25, was penned by Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) Director-General Lu Jie-shen, and Taiwan High Speed Railway (THSR) Chairman Y.C. Chiang.
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After the ceremony, a panel discussion was held to find ways to promote tourism around Jiji’s railway line — the longest of all TRA’s lines in Taiwan.
Aside from developing the Jiji line as a tourism hotspot, the three agencies also decided to launch train carriage painting activities on the Jiji line and host the “2018 Taiwan-Japan Tourism Summit” panel in June.
The seminar will allow experts from the industry, government, and academics for brainstorming to create a comprehensive tourism development package for the Jiji line.
Transportation Minister Hochen Tan, who presided over the ceremony, considered the collaboration an extension of the President Tsai Ing-wen administration’s “Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program.”
Chiang said last April saw the same cooperation between TRA and THSR for a THSR-focused travel package for Jiji. The package connects THSR Changhua Station with the Jiji line, thus allowing tourists to travel on Taiwan’s west coast with ease.
This year, Chiang said a new tour package will allow tourists to travel to different destinations by either THSR or TRA within a single day, including the mountainous scenery of the Jiji line and the Sun Moon Lake.
TRA’s Lu named the Jiji line as one of TRA’s most famous routes, which begins from Changhua County’s Ershui Station to Nantou’s Checheng Station.
The line was originally built by Taiwan Power Company to facilitate the construction Mingtan Hydro Power Plant in Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, central Taiwan. It was seriously damaged during the devastating earthquake on September 21, 1999, and only resumed operation in February 2002 after substantial repairs.
In March 2010 service on the line was suspended in order for work to be performed on seven railway tunnels between Zhuoshui Station and Checheng Station. Train service was suspended again in 2010 for the repairs and expansion of the width of the railway’s tunnels and reopened two years later.