Monday, July 16, 2012

Taiwan: Train festival opens in Nantou

From Focus Taiwan: Train festival opens in Nantou

Nantou, July 15 (CNA) A vintage train model, dubbed "the king of steam locomotives," pulled into Jiji Station on the railway branch line Sunday to kick off the Nantou County Train Festival, which features both antique trains and popular cartoon characters.

To mark the official opening of the festival, Nantou County Magistrate Lee Chao-ching departed from Zhuoshui Station on the DT668, a steam-powered train, and arrived in Jiji Station to hundreds of awaiting railway fans.

The DT668, manufactured in 1941, was retired in March 1984 and reactivated in November last year on the Neiwan Branch Line in Hsinchu to promote railway tourism.

The 20-meter train had the largest tonnage and cylinder tractive power of any Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train during the era it was in use, the festival's organizers said.

The DT668 and CK124, another steam locomotive that has been featured at the festival in previous years, will rotate in taking tourists for rides on the Jiji Line until the festival closes on Aug. 12.

The festival also showcases characters from famous cartoon series, such as Thomas and Friends, Pingu, Bob the Builder, Sesame Street, Deko Boko Friends and Tamagotchi.

Three exhibition areas have been set up by organizers. One of them, at Zhuoshui Station, is dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine, the festival's "spokesman." The second, found at Jiji Station, is dedicated to the other cartoon characters.

The third is a 10-meter-long mobile exhibition hall -- built from a container truck -- that will display models of Jiji Line stations and attractions at different venues around the festival.

In addition to the festival, the county government has created a tourism promotion event giving visitors the chance to harvest pineapples in Mingjian Township. It has also introduced package tours that will take visitors to different townships in the county.

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