New scenic bikeway planned in northeastern Yilan County

The China Post news staff

YILAN, Taiwan — A long stretch of idled railway track with five tunnels and extraordinary natural sceneries in northeastern Yilan County will be converted into a new bikeway. The Nanao Township Government is working on a plan to revive the abandoned railway section of around 20 kilometers for tourism and recreational purposes in a project in cooperation with the state-run Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). The designated section was part of the old and forsaken North-Bend railway that winds from the northern coast to the eastern coast.

Half of the section is covered by five tunnels with lengths ranging from 200 meters to 10 km each.

Officials said it will be an excellent recreational area for the growing number of people who take up biking as outdoor activities during holidays. Bikers will have the opportunity of appreciating the natural environs, including the Pacific Ocean while the temperatures on the tract is much cooler during the summer heat. Catering to the needs of the residents, the old railway ran through many small towns with very high concentrations of aboriginal people. The commercial activities of these towns were mostly held in abeyance for many years due to reduced travelers after the railway transport service was suspended. Officials expect the business environment can be resurrected as in the old days with the pollution-free tourism while the bikers will have one more favorite spot for relaxation after one week’s work. TRA officials said they will have a thorough safety inspection of the tunnels and provide regular maintenance after a budget for the project is secured. This can be the third project to modify obsolete railway tracts into bikeways for tourism and recreation.

A rail section in central Taichung County linking Houli and Fengyuan and another in Tsaoling of Nantou County now both attract growing number of bikers on weekends and other holidays. Both the TRA and the Tourism Bureau are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) that has spearheaded various projects to help rejuvenate economic activities in Taiwan.