Central Taiwan - Main Line Viaduct-ification

TL;DR: A city, divided for over 100 years by a railway, is finally reunified.

Taichung (台中,literally meaning “central Taiwan”) is the dominant city of central Taiwan, with just over 1 million inhabitants within its urban districts. The city is surprisingly sprawl-y by Asian standards, with poor traffic conditions and underdeveloped urban transit (their light metro is scheduled to open late this year after decades of planning and delays).

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Taiwan’s low-speed rail corridor runs right through the old downtown of Taichung. From the railway’s inception in 1905 until 2016, it ran at-grade with very few crossings, splitting the city into two halves with poor connectivity between the two sides of the line.

This has finally been fixed with an enormous viaduct project that eliminated 17 at-grade crossings over 21.7 km of Taichung soil as illustrated here:

The Taichung-area railway section fully elevated in 2016
The Taichung-area railway section fully elevated in 2016
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The centrepiece of the project is the brand new Taichung Railway Station served by the new elevated tracks, situated right next to the historic old station.

The new Taichung Station retains a fully outdoor configuration but with an attractive steel canopy offering some weather protection. From my visit in 2019, when the main hall was finally completed just months before.
The new Taichung Station retains a fully outdoor configuration but with an attractive steel canopy offering some weather protection. From my visit in 2019, when the main hall was finally completed just months before.
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Some things never change: Even in the 21st century, Taiwan’s infrastructure is being designed with blatant safety issues. Pretty sure you’re not supposed to force people to walk over the yellow line just to get past that column.
Some things never change: Even in the 21st century, Taiwan’s infrastructure is being designed with blatant safety issues. Pretty sure you’re not supposed to force people to walk over the yellow line just to get past that column.
Part of the old at-grade alignment is preserved below the new station. The old station preserves its colonial-era main building and parts of the old platforms.
Part of the old at-grade alignment is preserved below the new station. The old station preserves its colonial-era main building and parts of the old platforms.
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My previous visit in 2018, when the old station’s ticketing lobby was still in use. The new station’s main canopy is behind it but only the platforms were being used at the time.
My previous visit in 2018, when the old station’s ticketing lobby was still in use. The new station’s main canopy is behind it but only the platforms were being used at the time.
The new station canopy under construction in June 2015.
The new station canopy under construction in June 2015.
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The biggest change will be over the coming years, as previously segregated sections of the city gradually reconnect for the first time in more than a century.

Since first visiting in 2011 to discover a city struggling into the 21st century, I’ve observed Taichung take remarkable steps to modernisation. With the metro opening later this year, road traffic and pollution will also see significant improvements that the people deserve.

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