Taiwan & High Speed Rail
Ever since Taiwan's high-speed rail (HSR) (HSR) was completed, it has destroyed the domestic flight market. Only the flights to offshore islands and the east coast (where the HSR cannot reach) remain.
However, HSR isn't for all trips as there are cases where it does not make sense.
To put it into perspective, the furthest domestic flight in Taiwan is about one hour, and the HSR can do the same in 1.5 hours.
As the train runs much more frequently than flights, and there is no time-consuming travel to the airport and security process and wait time, it is much easier to take the train. Further, the train is less affected by weather elements, which means fewer delays for travelers.
For longer distances, like Tokyo to Sapporo, or from Chicago to NYC, airplanes are still the way to go.
Interestingly, ever since HSR replaced the domestic flights in Taiwan, the ticket price has been steadily becoming more and more expensive.
HSR requires a substantial initial investment in infrastructure and an incredibly high cost of operation to maintain safety for all. By comparison, air travel doesn't need such a massive infrastructure investment, or new acquisition of private lands which could cause damage to the local natural habitat.
Vibration and noise pollution are other drawbacks that occur along the entire distance the train travels.
Will the coronavirus put a damper on the long term demand for HSR as fewer citizens want to travel in public areas?
While there are benefits and disadvantages to each transportation system, it is undeniable that technology improves the quality of lives all over the world, and the development of Taiwan’s High Speed Rail is yet another example of that improvement.
Written by Jack Argiro
Edited by Alexander Fleiss, Jason Kauppila, Calvin Ma & Gihyen Eom