Rail Bikes finally come to Taiwan! (By Central News Agency)
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Miaoli County Government and the Culture and Tourism Bureau held a press conference Thursday to unveil the Rail Bike project.
The Rail Bike will first be tested in Miaoli County and will be formally released in June in time for the summer tourist season, reported CNA.
Miaoli County received a subsidy of NT$300 million (US$10 million) to develop Rail Bikes in an effort to find a new use for obsolete railroad tracks and develop “green” tourism. Rail Bike developers looked to Korean, Japanese, European, and American models for inspiration, according to CNA.
Jeongson Rail Bikes in South Korea (Image from Visit Korea)
Each stage of the Rail Bike development and production process was “Made in Taiwan.”
The total available track to Rail Riders is currently 15.9 km (9.9 mi), from Miaoli’s Sanyi Railway Station (三義車站) to Taichung’s Houli Railway Station (台中后里站).
Taiwan’s Rail Bike will seat four people and each rider will have access to an emergency brake, said the Director of the Miaoli Culture and Tourism Bureau, Lin Yan-fu (林彥甫). Each Rail Bike will include electronic sensors to help bikers climb steep inclines, GPS functions, and guided tours in different languages.
From 2010 to 2012, the Miaoli County Government tried to bring back steam locomotives to run on this same stretch of track, but the operating cost was too high, said Director Lin.
Miaoli County Commissioner, Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), said that getting the Rail Bike plan approved was no simple feat. Coordinating an agreement between the Department of Transportation, Taiwan Railways Administration, various contracts, and design organizations was complex and lengthy.