From Fangliao to Taitung: Joyful Ride On Taiwan’s Last Ordinary Train 搭乘台铁仅存的普快车,感受不是普通的快乐!

If you recall from my earlier post, the old ordinary train was the real reason that brought me to discover Fangliao, a relatively unknown rural place to foreigners. There are only 2 such train services available on the traditional ordinary train now, which plies the mountainous route linking southern Taiwan to Taitung in the east. It is a local train stopping at almost all 14 stations along this line that meanders through 38 tunnels in the sparsely populated mountainous regions.

如果你记得,我在前文曾提到,为什么会选择枋寮,一个不为外地人所知的渔港小乡,为这次台湾行的首站吧?全都是因为要搭乘台铁仅存的普快车前往台东。目前,这个俗称蓝皮的普快车(因为车身漆上蓝色)只在南迴線行驶,一天仅2趟,途经中央山脉及东部海岸线,西起枋寮车站,东至台东车站。全程有14个区间车站,几乎都有停靠,共计38座山地隧道。

Although I don’t consider myself a railway fan, but after accidentally finding out about this historical train online, I was very keen to ride on it. It is expected to cease operation completely in the next few years as the entire line is scheduled to run on electric power by March 2022. Furthermore, the train goes through scenic mountains with some parts along the majestic eastern coastline. Just the thought of that made it a must-do for my trip. Perhaps the only downside of the train is that it is non air-conditioned, with only old ceiling fans to cool you down. Indeed, I was a little concerned about this, since I’d be riding the train in scorching summer! But I decided to go ahead because the experience seems too interesting to be missed!

虽然我从来都不觉得自己是铁道迷,但无意中在网上阅读到南迴線普快车的存在后,就对它产生极大的兴趣。据说它将在几年后全面停驶,因为整条南迴铁路预计将彻底电气化。除此之外,蓝皮沿途的风景是壮丽的山峦及台湾最美的东部海岸线。单是这点就足以让我心动,把它列入我的行程。只有一点小担心,就是蓝皮是老旧的火车,没有冷气,只能开电风扇和打开窗口,让空气舒畅。这次的台湾行是在炎热的夏天,怕热的我行吗?哈哈… 但想到这个古早的火车之旅是个难得的体验,也就把心一横,安排进行程吧!

The train departs from Fangliao Station at 11 am daily, & we were told that tickets could be purchased on the day itself from the station as it’s not in high demand these days given the lack of air-con & slower travelling speed. Each ticket costs 104 TWD (~S$4.85) for the approximately 2.5-hour journey. After purchasing the tickets, grabbing some takeaway lunch from a nearby eatery, we made our way to platform 2. Do note there is no elevator/ escalator connecting you to the platform from the station main hall. You would have to go down a short flight of stairs, walk along the path & then climb up a (long) flight of stairs to get there. So if you are thinking of adding this into your next Taiwan trip, you’ve been warned. Travel light or be prepared for some serious muscle training! I thought my whole shirt was soaked after I finally made it into the train haha.

普快车每天早上11点从枋寮火车站出发。由于没有冷气,行驶速度又慢,当天早上买车票也应该买得到,因为不是很多人会选择搭乘。约2小时半的车程,车票只需104台币。购票后,到车站附近早餐店买了待会儿吃的午餐,我们就拖着行李到第二月台乘搭蓝皮。提醒大家,第二月台没有电梯或电动扶梯。从车站大厅,我们必须爬一小段楼梯下去底层,在平行道上直走到第二月台的位置,然后再爬(蛮长的)梯级上去月台。可以的话,尽量带轻便的行李,不然就像我一样,锻炼肌肉吧哈哈!终于进入车厢时,我的衬衫几乎是湿透的,嘻嘻。。。

It was a little pity I forgot to tour the entire train or chose the most “auspicious” seat (for best scenery of course) once I got on the train as I was too tired from lugging my luggage up & down in hot weather. The air in the train felt quite still as all windows & fans were shut when we entered. But what I saw in front of me (as per photo above) as we stepped in felt like we had travelled back in time. As expected, there were not many passengers & each carriage probably had 1 or 2 pax in it. We had the whole carriage to ourselves! The old train captain who helped me carry my luggage up the train said we could sit anywhere, switch on the fans or open the windows as we wish. But we had such a hard time trying to pull up even 1 window pane. Guess the windows weren’t lubricated enough due to old age. In the end, we always had to combine forces before we could succeed. 😛

因为搬行李的“粗活”真的累坏我了,让我进入车厢也忘了应该选个最佳的位子(欣赏美景啦),和去每个车厢探个究竟。刚踏入车厢,感觉很闷,空气不流通,因为电风扇没开,车窗也都紧闭。但眼前的以上一幕让我嗅到浓浓的古早味,仿佛时光倒流了。乘客真的不多,我们俩就像包厢一样,拥有整个车厢😄。帮我把行李搬上火车的老车长告诉我们,可以随意坐,也可以开风扇和开窗。但车窗不容易打开啊,我们俩费了很大的劲,手掌红透了,老旧的车窗只勉强开了一点点。最后,我们发现团结就是力量,双剑合并才能顺利打开。:P

Better take a shot of the little ticket against the beautiful backdrop 1st!

Along the 98.2 km journey from Fangliao to Taitung, there were hardly any cables spotted, except from Zhiben to Taitung where electric trains are available. The first 6 stations are located in Pingtung County, namely Fangliao, Jialu, Neishi, Fangshan, Fangye and the Central Signal Station, going through 12 mountain tunnels. The next 8 stations are in Taitung County’s Dawu Township, Taimali Township & Taitung City – Guzhuang, Dawu, Longxi, Jinlun, Taimali, Zhiben, Kangle & Taitung. Without further ado, here are photos taken throughout the slow but happy train ride to Taitung. 🙂

从枋寮到台东全程98.2公里的路程,都看不到电缆悬挂,直到知本车站才看得到,因为从知本开始铁道才电气化。这样也不错,视线不会被电缆阻扰。14个车站里,首6个位于屏东县,即:枋寮,加祿,內獅,枋山,枋野及中央號誌站,途经12座隧道。下来的8个车站坐落在台东县的大武乡,太麻里乡和台东市 – 古莊,大武,瀧溪,金崙,太麻里,知本,康樂和臺東站。以下是这趟缓慢但愉快车程拍下的照片。:)

Check out the tri-coloured ocean on the way to Fangshan, Taiwan’s southernmost railway station 前往枋山站的途中,喜见3种颜色的海洋

As we reached Fangshan Station, a group of students (probably elementary school) boarded the train with 2 teachers & broke the peace & quiet in our carriage. They looked like they were on an excursion to check out 1 of the last remaining traditional trains of Taiwan. While they certainly added some noise, but seeing them had fun helped inject more excitement into our journey as they would exclaim upon sighting beautiful scenery or when we got into the dark & noisy tunnels 😉

抵达台湾最南端的车站 – 枋山站,有一群看似小学生及老师的团体上来我们的车厢,打破原本的平静。虽然偶尔有点吵闹,因为他们看到美景或是列车进入隆隆作响的隧道时,情绪都会很亢奋。但看到他们玩得尽兴,好像也为我们的旅程注入一点精彩。

A hidden station in the woods without any train platforms or passenger service counter. 5-min stop here for exchange of trains but we weren’t allowed to alight 列车在枋野停靠5分钟,让列车交会,但不能下车。

After many tunnels & a non-stop Central Signal Station, finally reached Guzhuang Station

Between the Central Signal Station & Guzhuang Station is a series of many tunnels through the Central mountains, of which the main Central Tunnel was once the longest tunnel of the Taiwan railway system at 8.07 km. The 10.307 km New Guanyin Tunnel of the north line took over the coveted title since it was completed in 2003. So it was a 10-15 min period of repeated darkness & deafening noise for us without much scenery.

在中央號誌站和古莊之间是一连串的隧道,穿越中央山脉。中央隧道曾是台湾铁路最长的隧道,长8.07公里。直到2003,北迴線的新觀音隧道(10.307公里)启用后,中央隧道才退居第二。所以这段10至15分钟的路程没什么风景,也震耳欲聋。

1 of the 3 largest stations along the south line. 1st stop where we could take some quick shots along the platform for 4 min. But tourist arrivals have been dwindling over the years. 南迴線的三大车站之一。列车停靠站4分钟,是我们第一个可以下车快速拍照的车站。旅客到访人数逐年下降。

Longxi Station, former site of the Payuan tribe, located in Taimali Township of Taitung County. 瀧溪站位于多良村大溪部落,昔日为排湾族大得吉社所在地。

The legendary Duoliang Station, defunct since 2006

In between Longxi & the next Jinlun Station, look out for the now-defunct Duoliang Station. Touted as Taiwan’s most beautiful railway station, the bright red barrier gates create such a nice visual effect against the pristine blue ocean waters that are so close to the station. The train may be slow compared to newer electric trains, but at this point in time, I just wish time could freeze for a while so that I could take more shots of the picturesque landscape! Consolation: It started drizzling on & off after we saw the tri-coloured ocean before Fangshan Station, so the colours of the ocean & sky at Duoliang Station weren’t the best for photo-taking.

在瀧溪站与金崙站之间,要留意以上照片里在2006年已废止的多良车站。虽然已经废站,鲜红的栏栅与清澈的海洋,蔚蓝的天空形成一道美丽的风景线,号称全台最美的车站。列车行驶虽比其他火车缓慢,但经过多良车站,稍微晃神,可能会错过拍下美景的好机会哦!多希望时间能暂时停下,让我好好地多拍一些照片。😄或许只能自我安慰,当天一直下着细雨,天空灰灰的,就算能拍照也许也不会太美。:P

Finally seeing more of the Pacific Ocean after we got out of the Central Mountain range 穿过中央山脉之后,终于看到更多的海岸线…

This is another station where we could leave the train for a breather. Probably because this station is located nearby Jinlun Hot Springs so we could see some passenger movement.

金崙站是第二个允许我们短暂下车的地方。因为金崙温泉就在这儿附近,所以有看到一些游客上下车。

Another 1 of the 3 largest stations along the south line

Taimali Station shot to fame after a millennium event held here to welcome the 1st sunrise in Taiwan. It is said to be the 1st spot to witness sunrise in the country. Compared to earlier stations, the area around Taimali Station seems to be more populated as we spotted more houses. We seemed to be heading towards inland as the sight of the ocean got smaller too.

太麻里车站也是南迴線的三大车站之一。它是在“迎接千禧年第一道曙光”活动中引起大家的注意,打响名声,号称台湾最早看见日出的车站。

Zhiben Station – spot the electric cables dangling high here

As 1 of the 3 largest stations along the south line, Zhiben Station is located in Taitung City. Best known for Zhiben hot springs, we we were allowed to get on the platform as the train would stop here for 10 min. Even the train captain also gave us a friendly reminder to go down for a breather haha. This is also the ending point for Taiwan’s eastern electric railway line, so you may have noticed the presence of electric cables in the photo above. It is also the 2nd last stop before we would reach Taitung Station.

抵达知本车站,就能看到电缆的存在了。位于台东市的知本车站,也是南迴線的三大车站之一。因为知本温泉的盛名吧,这里比较多游客,列车也在这里停靠10分钟。就连车长也下车温馨提醒我们可以下车拍拍照哈哈。这里也是台湾东部电气铁路的终点站。还有2个站,我们就抵达臺東车站了。

Kangle Station – near Taitung airport & National Taiwan Prehistoric Cultural Museum

Random sight of another locomotive on the way to Taitung Station

Misty sight of lush greenery & mountains in the background

And after all these lovely sights, we arrived at Taitung Station, a modern station with escalators, elevators & passenger service centre. The old ordinary train appeared somewhat out of place alongside modern electric trains & facilities. I should have taken a photo of this interesting contrast to post here! 😛

欣赏了近2小时半的好山好水后,列车抵达摩登的臺東车站。这里有电梯,电动扶梯及客运服务中心,与之前经过的许多古早味浓郁的车站形成强烈对比。老旧的蓝皮普快车似乎也在这里显得有点格格不入。可惜没有拍下这一景!

While the weather might have been a little misty for clear fantastic views of the landscape, in a way, I was glad it was not too hot due to the drizzle. In fact, it was quite cooling in the train after I settled down from my luggage-lugging episode, with fans and windows open. I really enjoyed the ride, & 2.5 hours certainly didn’t feel long. But I regret not walking through all the carriages to check out different views & take more photos. Fortunately I still remembered to rotate my seat from left to right & vice versa for the best scenery haha. (Most of the time, sitting on the right side would get you better scenery though.) Hope there will be another chance for me to ride on the ordinary train before it ceases operations in the future!

纵使天空不作美,没有晴空万里,而是绵绵细雨,拍的照片大都灰蒙蒙的,但也感恩这样天气就不会太酷热。坐在没有冷气的蓝皮车里,打开车窗和电风扇,还能感觉到一丝丝的凉意。2小时半的车程一点都不嫌久,反而很悠闲惬意。只是有点后悔没有去每个车厢感受一下不同的滋味,与查看哪里有最美的风景。幸亏还记得随时更换座位欣赏不同的景致哈哈。(注:坐在右边的位子,风景通常比较优。)希望在蓝皮普快车彻底撤退之间,我还有机会搭乘,弥补这些小遗憾,再次感受非普通的快乐!;)

Ending this post with a photo of the blue ordinary train at Taitung Station. 就用普快车在臺東终点站停靠的这张照片结束我的文章吧 😉

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