High speed rail announces further service cut as demand drops

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s bullet train service will be further reduced between May 18 and June 23, as demand continues to fall amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the managing company said Friday.

There will be a further cut of 147 services per week during the period, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC) said, after announcing last month that its service would be reduced by 41 trains from April 18 to June 21.

The latest adjustment translates into a 18.5 percent drop in the 1,016 train journeys originally offered by the company weekly.

The service reduction will ensure travel during peak hours remains smooth, with six services provided per hour during that period, the company said, adding that it will continue to provide three to four trains per hour during off-peak hours.

The high speed rail will resume full service before the Dragon Boat Festival, which is scheduled for June 25-28 and is expected to boost demand, while flexible adjustments are possible before the holiday depending on market dynamics, THSRC said.

The company said it has seen a significant decrease in demand since February, while passenger volume in March dropped by 40 percent year-on-year.

THSRC also assured passengers it has implemented tight monitoring procedures and train cleaning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All 12 high speed train stations are equipped with infrared thermometers to check the temperature of passengers boarding its trains. Those with a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius are not allowed to board and receive a full ticket refund, THSRC said.

Currently, the stations are disinfected every two hours, as are the carriages whenever a train arrives at its destination, it said.