Railways on Taiwan Island

The island of Taiwan is not among the hot spots for (western) railway enthusiasts. Some might even ask themselves if there is a railway on the island. Well, it is. Moreover, not just one! Gauges between 400mm to 1,435mm? Steam, diesel or electric trains? Cosy narrow gauge pushcart lines, breathe taking forest railways or high-speed trains? You will find any of these on such a tiny island! There is hardly any other rather small place in the world that offers such a huge variety of railways. These pages try to highlight the railways on Taiwan Island by outlining their history, lines and rolling stock. You may use the menu above to select a certain topic or simply browse through the pages using the "next" links on the bottom of every page.

“Taiwan” is a very sensitive issue when it comes to politics. These pages purely focus on railways and give a 100% neutral view of railways on the island of Taiwan. My only interest are railways and I only mention facts without making any judgements. Please respect this!

The contents of these pages in German language are also available as a PDF and DOCX file. Please contact me via e-mail (for e-mail address please click on the Contact at the bottom of this page) if you are interrested in a free electronic copy.

How it started for me

For a long time I belonged to the rather large group of railway enthusiasts who ignored the fact that a railway exists on Taiwan Island. Things only started to change when my wife had scheduled a short family holiday on Taiwan Island throughout the Chinese New Year 2017. She did not plan for any railway related activities. Nevertheless I googled for "Railway" and "Taiwan" and soon discovered the quite famous Alishan Forest Railway. "I have to see this railway" was one of my first thoughts. Therefore, I finally convinced my wife to include a trip to Alishan by noting the wonderful and "must see" nature of Alishan while omitting the fact that there is also a railway. Time was way too short to include a ride on the main line from Chiayi to Alishan (anyway trains were just running to Fenqihu) but the interest was sparked. Back at home, I started searching for further information. One the one hand, I quickly realized that there is much more than just Alishan Forest Railway. On the other hand, there was not so much information available in English. The current results of my research are listed on these pages. There is still a lot do: getting details of the history of the governmental railways (especially pre-war), compose a complete list of locomotives used (there are still many gaps especially for the forest and sugar railways), detailed maps of the sugar railway and pushcart network… . But a start has been made. If you have further information or find any wrong information, please let me know. My contact details can be found at the bottom of the page.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50370723781_915b4d2fe2_n.jpg Figure 1: One of my first contacts with railways in Taiwan: Diesel loco DL-42 of Alishan Forest Railway put on display at Chukou Visitor Center.

What's the correct name?

The transliteration of Chinese names for geographic places into Roman script often leads to confusions. While the pinyin form has been used in mainland China for a long time and is widely accepted, maps and texts about Taiwan mostly use the Wades-Gilles or other forms of transliteration. To make things even more complicated, Japanese transliterations of names were used throughout the Japanese occupation. What is widely known as Taipei/T’ai-pei (Wades Gilles) can also be named as Taibei (pinyin), Taihoku (Japanese name), Taipeh-fu (colonial name), Tai-pak (Taiwanese Hokkien) or Taipeh. I try to stick to the most commonly used names for geographic places, e.g. Taipei or Kaohsiung instead of Taibei or Gaoxiong.