A pact paving the way for expanded cooperation between Alishan Forest Railway and Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway Preservation Co. Ltd. of the U.K. was concluded Sept. 27 in Chiayi City, southern Taiwan.
Under the agreement, the two sides will share experience and technical skills, as well as work together in promoting both narrow-gauge railways in the overseas market. It was signed by Lin Hwa-ching, director-general of the Forestry Bureau under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture, and WLLR Chairman Steve Clews.
According to Lin, the pact enables Alishan to learn from WLLR’s management practices and serves as a platform for raising the railway’s international profile. An additional benefit is greater access to the lucrative European rail tourism market, he said.
Other attendees at the signing ceremony included Lord Faulkner, deputy speaker of the U.K. House of Lords, and Lord Shutt, former deputy chief whip of the House of Lords. The British parliamentarians are visiting Taiwan Sept. 25-29 as part of a railway fact-finding trip organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lord Faulkner, who was appointed the first-ever U.K. trade envoy to Taiwan in January 2016, is a member and former chairman of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group. In November the same year, he led a sustainable railway development delegation comprising representatives of 17 U.K. companies and organizations to Taiwan to participate in the fifth Taiwan-U.K. Railway Forum.
According to the MOFA, the visit of Lord Faulkner and Lord Shutt will help deepen bilateral ties and cooperative exchanges in related areas.
Taiwan and the U.K. enjoy close relations across the areas of economy, mutual judicial assistance, tourism, trade, transportation and youth exchanges. Last year, Taiwan was the U.K.’s eighth largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific, while the U.K. was Taiwan’s third largest in Europe. The value of two-way trade reached US$5.85 billion.
The 71.4-kilometer Alishan Forest Railway was constructed during the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). It is one of the most popular in Taiwan and renowned the world over for its Z-shaped switchbacks through stunning mountain vistas.
Similarly impressive is the nearly 26-kilomter round-trip Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway in rural Wales. Built in 1903 to link farming communities with the market town of Welshpool, the line was shuttered in 1956 but gradually reopened in stages from 1963 by a group of enthusiasts.
Source: Taiwan Today