Saturday, February 4, 2017

Kaohsiung (高雄) - Circular LRT (環狀輕軌) - Cianjhen Star Station (前鎮之星站) [Travel in Taiwan 170203: The Land Down Under Part 11 "LRT anyone?"]


Have you tried riding the LRT? I mean the Kaohsiung LRT (KLRT). Believe it or not, Taiwan's biggest city in the south is a pioneer of this kind of mass transportation on the island. Its green passenger cars were so attractive that I thought it was a tram-train running on the streets in Europe. I was so excited when I first saw the KLRT on TV and when I planned my itinerary for my 7-day Kaohsiung Special I made sure that I would have a joyride on it.

MRT Kaisyuan Station




LRT Cianjhen Star Station


Where to board the KLRT? At the time of this writing, the LRT Cianjhen Star (C3 Station) is the best place to start with. From the Kaisyuan MRT Station, I went to Exit 1 and crossed the Kaisyuan 4th Road where an open-air railway station stands. There were a few passengers at the time of my arrival. While waiting for the train, I noticed some differences between the Kaohsiung MRT and its light rail version.


The KLRT as it makes a stop at Cianjhen Star Station and goes to C1 Station.




The railroad tracks of the LRT were laid on the ground and it runs through the highways and busy roads of the city. Unlike the MRT station which requires a lot of personnel to keep the safety of the riders, there is only one man who supervises the boarding and alighting of the passengers. Smart card readers were also available to accept the payment of the riders but there is no turnstile to stop anyone who wants to board the train without paying. I tried to swipe my EasyCard but it could not be read. A woman told me that the KLRT was just new and the rides were free of charge. 



The KLRT as it approaches the Cianjhen Star Station from the other side.

I watched with amazement as a train arrives at the C3 Station. Getting inside was very simple but if you are a keen observer, you would notice a button at the front and backside of the door. When a passenger wants to get off the train at a certain station, he or she should press the button on the door. Those wishing to board the train must also do the same.

A smart card reader inside the KLRT train





The train was not that big. Its width was smaller than the coaches of the Kaohsiung MRT. The seats were made up of plastic but it was comfortable enough to sit on. I enjoyed watching the passing cars from its windows as it runs along its railroad tracks towards the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center Station. 




The Kaohsiung LRT as it passes by the Dream Mall.

The Kaohsiung LRT as it goes to the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center Station.

85 Sky Tower

I took a video to document my first LRT ride in Kaohsiung. The train passed by the Dream Mall and I saw its big Ferris wheel standing on top of the shopping complex. The tourist attraction was like a copycat of Taipei's Miramar Ferris wheel which was also built on the top of a building to make its elevation higher. The journey continued along the Chenggong 2nd Road where the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center is located. As the train gets near to its current terminal station, I noticed the tall and iconic 85 Sky Tower. It said 'hi' to me as its glass windows reflected the light coming from the setting sun. 



LRT Kaohsiung Exhibition Center Station

Kaohsiung City spent 539 million US Dollars to build this Circular Line of the Kaohsiung MRT which is commonly known as the Kaohsiung LRT. Its trains currently run from the C1 Station (Lizihnei) until the C8 Station (Kaohsiung Exhibition Center) with planned expansions in the coming years to complete the loop. Riding it was a totally new experience. New Taipei City will soon have its own LRT line that will run along in Tamsui. However, it might take time for its construction to finish. How about Taipei? I don't know if there are plans to build such mass transport. Maybe I should ask the people here. LRT anyone?

Maple Series


"Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei). Catch it every Wednesday at 8:00 pm (Taiwan/Philippine time)


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