Starting on March 30, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) is to offer fine cuisine on its eastern Taiwan scenic train in a dining car touted as a “five-star moving restaurant.”
The “Future Express,” a refurbished Chukuang Express train, would take 54 passengers on either a one-day or two-day trip to the east coast with gourmet food featured during the journey, said Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅遊), which the TRA has commissioned to provide the service.
“It will be the first ‘aesthetic train’ in Taiwan that provides passengers with fine dining on the move,” Lion Travel president Andy Yu (游國珍) told a promotional event.
Photo: CNA
Yu said the seven-carriage train would be divided into a dining area and a sightseeing area, each with 54 seats.
The train is to depart from Nangang Station in Taipei and take passengers on a one-day trip to Hualien for NT$15,800 (US$563) or a two-day trip to Taitung for NT$37,900.
On the Hualien trip, passengers would dine on a five-course meal prepared by the Formosa International Hotels Corp (晶華國際) on the outbound journey that “echoes with the scenery,” Yu said.
Photo: Chen Hsin-yu, Taipei Times
On arrival, there would be several excursions for passengers to choose from, he said.
On the Taitung trip, there would be two five-course meals and an overnight stay at a local hotel, he said.
For example, when the train arrives at Yilan, fresh seafood from the local Suao Port would be provided, while dessert made from Hualien-grown sweet potatoes would be available when the train approaches the county, Yu added.
The culinary journey has been well-received, with tours from this month to June sold out in 15 minutes after going on sale on Feb. 22, Yu said.
Tours from July to September can be booked from March 15, he said.
TRA Director-General Tu Wei (杜微) said that his agency has high hopes for the “Future Express,” which was inaugurated in late 2020 to boost railway travel.
The train comes with a nostalgic vibe as its black-and-orange exterior harks back to an older era of Taiwanese train travel, when many of the train designs used black as a prominent color.
The interior of the dining car in the 50-year-old train incorporates Western and Taiwanese elements, the latter including bamboo rattan chairs.
Although Taiwan remains under the threat of COVID-19, the scenic train served 58 tourist groups last year, generating about NT$140 million, Tu said.
The TRA plans to work with Lion Travel to offer tours that integrate train and bike travel later this year.
After the government lifts border controls, seats would be reserved on the “Future Express” for international travelers to further enhance Taiwan’s international profile as a travel destination, Yu said.
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