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Alishan Forest Railway – Taiwan’s first national cultural landscape

2020/04/23
Alishan Forest Railway is one of the most ancient and beautiful mountain railways in the world.

As Taiwan’s first national cultural landscape with a history of over 100 years, Alishan Forest Railway is one of the most ancient and beautiful mountain railways in the world.

 

Rich in forestry resources, Alishan, Taipingshan and Basianshan were jointly known as “the three major forest farms of Taiwan” during the Japanese colonial period. The Japanese had begun building railroads to transport wood and timber down the mountain, which not only developed the unique forestry culture of Chiayi but also enabled Alishan Forest Railway to become the unparalleled centennial railway in the world.

 

“You can hear clearly the variations in sounds when the machines change their speed This is what makes the forest railway enchanting”.

 

Constructed in 1912, Alishan Forest railway features forests, mountain climbing, and a high mountain railway all rolled into one. Possessing the most complicated railway diversity, the entire route of Alishan Forest railway is divided into main and branch lines, with a total length of 85km. Stretching upwards from Chiayi Station located at an altitude of 30m to Alishan Station at an elevation of 2,216m, the route includes the three vegetation physiognomic types of tropical forest, temperate forest and temperate warm forest, accompanied by breathtaking scenery. Furthermore, one can also transfer to the branch line and travel all the way up to Zhushan Station, the highest train station (2,451m) in Taiwan to enjoy the beauty of Alishan’s sunrise with all the other tourists.

 
Chiayi Alishan Forestry Railway travels back and forth in the forest.
 

To overcome the difficult and dangerous terrain, Alishan Forest Railway adopted four of the five major methods of construction of mountain-climbing railways: the essential features include the loop line and spiral route, Switchback (zig zag), a mountain climbing train with a special engine and S type line and U-turn line, which are exactly the same as the mountain construction method of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a mountain railway listed as a World Heritage site in 1999. Alishan Forest Railway is not only part of the important national cultural heritage of Taiwan but is also one of the world-renowned mountain railways.

 

Would you like to learn more about the history and culture of Alishan Forest Railway and details of train ticket booking? Please refer to the official website of Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office for more information.

 

【Itinerary of Alishan Forest Railway】
Also known as Alishan Forest Train, Alishan Forest Railway is currently divided into the Main Line and the Branch line.
Originally it was possible to travel directly from Chiayi Station to Alishan Station, but due to the severe damage caused to some sections of the line by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, after years of reconstruction and restoration, at an altitude of 1,534 meters, Shizilu Station is presently the terminal station of the Main Line.

 

【Alishan Forest Railway Main Line】
Routes currently open:
Chiayi- Beimen- Lumachan- Jhuci- Muchiliao- Jhangnaoliao- Dulishan- Liyuanliao- Jiaoliping- Shueisheliao- Fenqihu- Duolin- Shizilu
Routes currently closed:
Pingzhena - Erwanping

 

【Alishan Forest Railway Branch Line】

  • Chushan Line (Alishan-Zhaoping-Chushan)
  • Zhaoping Line (Alishan-Zhaoping)
  • Shenmu Line (Alishan-Shenmu)
  • Shuishan Line: currently taken as a hiking trail.
  • MianyueLin: currently closed as a result of severe damages caused by the 921 Earthquake and Typhoon Morakot in 1999 and 2009.
 

【Characteristic stations along the way】
▌Beimen Station: the origin of Alishan Forest Railway, Beimen Station features typical Japanese-style architecture built of Taiwan Red Cypress.
▌Jhuci Station: the last station of Alishan Forest Railway on the flat land and the starting point of the mountain-climbing railway. The station has a triangular junction where the direction of travel and the relative orientation of a locomotive can be reversed, resulting in it pulling the carriage from the front and pushing the train up the mountain with the train engine at the back in the early days. 
▌Dulishan Station: designed based on the inspiration of a snail shell, the “spiral” route that climbs up the hill of Dulishan is an experience that rail fans should not miss. Dulishan Trail, the one and only trail adjacent to the railway in the country is also a must-visit spot.
▌Liyuanliao Station: the only station which is not connected to any highways is currently a new attraction for firefly viewing.
▌Shueisheliao Station: the featured station where a u-shaped route appears during the arrival and departure of the train by following the terrain. Whereas the old cave has become a bat conservation area, the station was rebuilt as a bat education center.
▌Fenqihu Station: the largest relay station of the entire Alishan Forest Railway, Fenqihu Station is a famous sightseeing spot.
▌Duolin Station: originally a small tribe of the Tsou, Doulin Station was formerly called “Douluoxian,” meaning “dense forests” in the Tsou language. It is a secret hidden station in the mind of rail fans and the depot station of the circular arc-shaped railway. 
▌Shizilu Station: a fascinating small station closest to Taiwan Provincial Highway No. 18 (Alishan Highway), Shizilu gets its name from being located at the intersection of Alishan Highway and the industrial forest road. It was an important lumbering area in the early days.
▌Erwanping Station: another station equipped with circular arc-shaped railroads and a triangular junction aside from Jhuci Station. Also known as the station with the most attractive view, it is currently the best spot for enjoying the sunset and the cloud sea.
▌Alishan Station: the terminal station of Alishan Forest Railway and the starting point of Alishan branch lines including Zhaoping, Chushan and Shenmu Line.
▌Chushan Station: the highest train station in Taiwan, Chushan Station still preserves the elegantly curving platform rarely seen in Taiwan.

 
Beimen Station the origin of Alishan Forest Railway, Beimen Station features typical Japanese-style architecture built of Taiwan Red Cypress.   Chushan Station the highest train station in Taiwan, Chushan Station still preserves the elegantly curving platform rarely seen in Taiwan.