After years of being plagued with delays and extensive testing, the Taoyuan Metro finally opened on March 2nd 2017. It currently consists of 21 stations (A1-A21), which 3 additional stations to be added in the future. With the opening of line it finally gives Taipei Taoyuan International Airport rail connections to the city, arriving at the a new dedicated building near the Taipei Main Station. Before this, people arriving would have to take a bus or taxi to the city, which may take over an hour due to traffic. Now, people arriving to Taipei have another option to get to the city.
There are two types of trains that run on the Taoyuan Metro line. There is the airport express line (it stops at a limited number of stations on the line) and a commuter line (stops at all 21 stations on the line). The colors are different on the Kawasaki train sets to distinguish the services served with the express being painted purple and the commuter being blue. Seating arrangements on the commuter trains have forward facing bench seating and poles with grab handles for standees. The express trains have 2 x 2 seating with TV screens showing flight information and luggage racks.
The pride and joy of this development isn’t that it finally connects the city to the airport, but the new check-in and baggage handling system installed at the Taipei Main Station. Users of the Airport Express can print boarding passes, view flight status, and check-in their luggage right at the metro station. The baggage is then sent a baggage scanning machine designed in the Netherlands that scans and tags the luggage to your destination. These check-ins, however, are only available to those flying on China Airlines and EVA Air flights, but more airlines may add counters at the metro station in the future. Taoyuan Metro runs 4 car sets, but express train has an additional car to carry checked luggage to the airport. There also luggage racks on express trains to put luggage on the train. The ride to the airport takes roughly 40 minutes on the express, while it takes over an hour on the commuter train. Either way, the ride costs $160NT ($5.10US) to ride from the train station to the airport or vice versa. Many people in Taiwan complained about the price being too expensive, but when you compare that price to other cities with airport metro to city connections, then the price is reasonable. Take for example, Bart SFO to Embarcadero station it costs $8.95, while Keisei’s Skyliner costs $22 to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo city.
The exclusive baggage car in the front of the Kawasaki express train.
From the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station the metro line gives people another option to go to the airport. Before it was either an expensive taxi ride or a $30NT ($0.90US) U-bus ride to the airport. The ride to the airport from the HSR station or visa versa on the metro is $35NT ($1.15US).
One thing I noticed is that the traveling speed on the line is very slow, with an average speed of about 25mph. This due to the fact that the 33 mile (53km) line has lots of steep gradients and some curves on the tracks. The steepest section is between A6 and A7 stations with gradients reaching 49%. Therefore, this section the train slows to a crawl as it ascends and descends between these stations.
For riding on the first day of revenue service Taoyuan Metro handed out limited edition “Kuai Kuai” snacks with both metro train sets on the bag with station info on the back.
Lets just hope the Taichung Metro opens on time.