More Trains

Soon after Taiwan’s high speed rail began running in 2007, we moved from Kaohsiung (where we’d resided since 1982) to Tainan (where we remained until retiring in 2018). Though there was a Tainan High Speed Rail station, it was located several kilometers from the city center, and the branch line of the regular Taiwan Rail Company to the High-speed station was still years away. 

Our residence was near to the Taiwan Rail Company’s central city station, and only a couple of blocks from us there was a level crossing where traffic would have to stop whenever a train passed. At peak travel times, this could happen frequently.  When the branch line to the high speed station opened, 4 more trains passed through every hour. Drivers of ambulances to the emergency room at the hospital next door learned to take alternate routes.


Through our years of Taiwan life, we often sojourned in the town where we’ve now retired, Holland, MI for months at a time. Tracks bisect the city, and there are frequent trains, including daily passenger service to and from Chicago. Freight is another matter. I recall a time we were here 20 years ago when the US economy was booming, and the freights going both directions were long and almost hourly. Lately, however, it seems that apart from that daily passenger service and frequent unit trains carrying 120 cars of coal to a nearby power plant, there’s not much moving through here.

At least, until a couple weeks ago.  Amtrak suspended our passenger service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some company or other has seen to it that we hear the sound of horns and rolling stock through the day.  I’ve not been out to see what that may be, but every time I hear that lonesome whistle blow, and it’s not on the schedule for the now suspended passenger service, I wonder what’s up.

David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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