Taiwan’s iconic high speed rail (HSR) service which connects Taipei in the north, with Kaohsiung in the south will cut its current levels of service from April 18th through June 21st, for reasons directly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main HSR stations in Taipei, Taoyuan and Taichung already have temperature screening measures in place to help prevent passengers with possible symptoms from traveling, with another 12 stations to be equipped with the same facilities by the end of next month.
The cuts in services were, however, unexpected.
According to reports overnight in Taiwan, the schedule cuts will primarily affect off-peak Friday to Sunday HSR services, and are directly attributable to a dip in ticket sales whilst people opt to refrain from unnecessary travel.
41 trains a week will be directly affected from a total of over 1,000 high speed trains that normally travel along Taiwan’s west coast. It is understood that at least three services per hour will still run.
Services over the April 2nd to 5th holiday weekend in Taiwan will be unaffected according to current reports.
Additionally, the full service is scheduled to resume operations in the week ahead of the late June Dragon Boat Festival, another time of the year many Taiwanese choose to travel domestically.
Buses Don’t Escape
In related news, a bus service linking Tainan with Kaohsiung International Airport will also be cut.
Known as the Tainan Express, the service only came into being in mid-January and typically takes just over an hour to reach Kaohsiung’s airport from Tainan at a cost of NT $150 one-way.
This cancellation comes about as a result of around 85% of all flights in and out of Kaohsiung cancelled as a result of the virus. No details are yet available on resumption of this service.
Any passengers with pre-booked tickets will be given full refunds. Details can be obtained by calling 0800-889-116.