Taiwan’s Alishan locomotive hauls passengers for first time in Wales

Taiwan’s Alishan locomotive hauls passengers for first time in Wales
Taiwan’s Alishan locomotive hauls passengers for first time in Wales
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London, May 5 (CNA) A 50-year-old diesel powered locomotive that was sent from Taiwan to the United Kingdom under a loan agreement went into operation on Saturday, pulling its first train load of passengers on a railway line in Wales.

The DL-34 locomotive is on loan by the Alishan Forest Railway for an initial period of three years and will operate on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, a narrow gauge heritage line that runs about 13.7 kilometers between the town of Welshpool and the village of Llanfair Caereinion.

At Saturday’s launch ceremony in Wales, a headboard was fitted onto the locomotive jointly by Steve Clews, chairman of the light rail, and Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶), director of Taiwan’s Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency.

The loan of the Alishan Forest Railway (AFR) locomotive was “the culmination of four years of discussions,” and was a great opportunity for the two railways to keep building their friendship, Clews said at the launch ceremony, according to a Facebook post by Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR).

Clews was referring to a Sister Railway Agreement between the AFR and W&LLR that was signed in September 2017, after which the loan was proposed.

Meanwhile, Lin said at the ceremony that the DL-34 would “traverse the beautiful hills and plains of Wales gracefully” under the excellent care of the W&LLR.

Michael Reilly, a former British representative to Taiwan and currently secretary at W&LLR, told CNA on Saturday that many people had been looking forward to the locomotive’s operation in Wales.

The passengers on the first trip on Sunday included local government officials and railway fans, not just from the UK but also Malaysia, said Reilly, who had helped to make the arrangements for the loan.

“With China steadily increasing its attempts to isolate Taiwan internationally, exchange agreements such as this could therefore play an important part in raising Taiwan’s profile,” Reilly said.

The locomotive was delivered in February 2023 after a 9,971 km journey from Alishan in Taiwan to Wales. Work was then carried out over a 12-month period to modify systems, test the locomotive and train its drivers, according to the W&LLR.

W&LLR also has a sister agreement with another Taiwan company, Taiwan Sugar Corp. (TSC), which was signed in December 2018.

Under that agreement, the Welsh railway had loaned its Dougal locomotive — a narrow gauge steam locomotive — to Taiwan’s Chiayi County, according to the W&LLR website.

In 2004, the railway had obtained from TSC a Diema locomotive — a diesel engine built in 1979 in Germany for use by TSC to haul trains carrying sugar cane.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Wu Kuan-hsien)

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Tags: Taiwans Alishan locomotive hauls passengers time Wales

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