The future: Taiwan’s most beautiful railway

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(CNN) – Taiwan’s first food train hit the road – and this amazing feat is gaining fans not only for its food, but also for its appearance.

Called the Moving Kitchen, it is the latest addition to “The Future,” a private train ride.

The opening of the Moving Kitchen was held at the Nangang Railway Station in Taipei in March 2022 – a real moment for Johnny Chiu, the founder of JC Architecture in Taipei.

Looking at the orange and black train, it’s hard to believe that when it first launched in 2019, its original style was called an “aesthetic catastrophe” by the local media.

Chiu redesigned the entire train, including new food trucks, which is why this “disaster” is now called “the most beautiful train in Taiwan.”

The message started

“In Taiwan, train travel is a big part of our lives,” Chiu told CNN Travel.

“From enlisting in the army (military service is required for men in Taiwan) to returning home for the New Year celebrations, to meet our friends or grandmothers, there is the train journey is a memory of everyone. ”

So, when the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), the island’s national railway agency, released the first pictures of the “The Future” train in 2019, everyone was horrified.

“The kitchen is almost like a hospital, with all the white carpets and trash cans you can find on the streets. Media sites and every social media account,” Chiu recalls.

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

Designed by Johnny Chiu, Moving Kitchen began its first operation in March 2022.

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

Saddened by the situation, Chiu wrote an open letter, inviting everyone to see this as an opportune time for Taiwan’s railways to change again, and hope that someone will give their all. letter to TRA.

To be fair, TRA delegates were widely aware of their shortcomings, telling local advertisers, “We were people who knew how to hammer and repair trains but none of us think about how the train will work better. ”

In response to the allegations, TRA hired a team of developers to seek a positive outcome. One of them saw Chiu’s open message and snatched it.

“I got an email saying, ‘Johnny, fine. We’re glad we got this good response. I’ll give you two weeks and please let us know your thoughts,'” he said. “Chiu recalled.

Two weeks of sleepless nights and whiskey meditation groups later, Chiu and his team presented to TRA with a plan for change. Soon after, they had the program.

Working on a 50 year old train

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

Architect Johnny Chiu and his team are set to replace this 50 -year -old train in 2019.

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

But the real difficulty has begun.

The company only had seven months to repair the new orange train. The Chu-Kuang Express was an old diesel locomotive dating back to the 1970s.

“We didn’t know it was an old train. We had to cut everything in and repaint everything,” Chiu said.

They faced many challenges, such as power and planning challenges.

They have hard wires that need to be hidden. Nowadays, safety standards are higher than their standard local systems because trainers need to be fire resistant and secure.

Aside from the supply chain, it’s also hard to persuade a 132 -year -old government company to come up with these new design ideas.

“Taiwan Railway does not show planning – it shows safety, timeliness and accuracy. But fortunately, the TRA leader and deputy leader are able to make difficult decisions and encourage the whole team with dedication and passion, ”Chiu said.

The new design has been in place for seven months – and will be re -introduced to the public at the end of 2019. The famous orange color remains, but is enhanced by black to create a beautiful look.

The company has re -introduced the classic Japanese retro style in the form of the car.

The lake is inspired by Taiwan’s natural environment, with a variety of woods and black rocks used to tone the mountains and rocks along Taiwan’s beaches – where the train runs.

“We thought about what it was like to get a ticket. Like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you open an envelope to get a gold ticket and you’re happy with your ride,” Chiu said.

The Future 2.0: The first gourmet train in Taiwan

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

The livery of The Future is inspired by the orange color of the train.

Lee Kuo-Min JC Architecture

With great success under its belt, TRA continued with the production of The Future 2.0 – the Moving Kitchen gourmet train.

Victor Cheng is the general manager of Lion Travel, which handles booking for the train.

“Gourmet cars are a common idea in Japan and Europe but not Taiwan,” he told CNN Travel. “But Taiwanese love trains and they love food – so it’s a practical and fun way to combine the two.”

As the sole travel company of The Future and the largest travel company in Taiwan, Lion Travel spent more than a year maintaining the experience with JC Architecture and TRA before opening. and Malachi.

“To become the first five -star gourmet train in Taiwan, there are some challenges we have to overcome – the lack of cooking water and electricity are the two biggest problems,” Cheng said.

Plenty of water is needed for drinking, cleaning and cooking. But there is a limit to being on board.

To solve the problem, clean water and utensils were loaded on the train between meals at the stop. Some employees also work with the corporate supplier, Silks Hotel Group, which serves the best hotels and restaurants in Taiwan, to arrange the necessary amenities on board.

“The second challenge is to provide good restaurant services on the moving train. Our centers have taken a long time to prepare for a stable position while waiting for tables on the moving train. said Cheng.

The delivery of each course is consistent with the information that will be visible to the passengers.

For example, the first course of one of the foods on a two -day trip was abalone. It is revealed when the train arrives at Turtle Island, famous for its mollusks.

The second course was a fish salad in a blue bowl, combined with sea views of the east coast.

Then, the festival continues to showcase local specialties such as spring water plants (plants grown with local hot water), sweet potatoes and red sweet potatoes in the future. going to different places.

“And because it’s a tour train, we don’t have time to travel fast from one station to another office. We can delay the train on one of the best routes. It’s about the train. in Hualien, ”Cheng said.

A food trip

The Moving Kitchen is the first gourmet kitchen in Taiwan.

The Moving Kitchen is the first gourmet kitchen in Taiwan.

Lion’s Journey

Cheng said everyone in the project made the Moving Kitchen run smoothly.

“At the site where we stopped our train, there was a lot of growth blocking parts of the sea. To see this, TRA sent someone to gather grass and trees for the trip, ”Cheng said.

A train journey is more than just culinary knowledge. Combined with in -depth exploration activities such as a visit to a local rice farm and a fish port to learn about the food they eat on the train.

“So it’s not just good food on the moving train. The Moving Kitchen combines food, sights and sights as a whole journey,” Cheng said.

Unlike the previous version of The Future, the redesign of the Moving Kitchen cars lasted about a year, allowing new time for regular operation.

Two new dining cars with 54 seats, as well as a new patio and kitchen. The dining rooms are combined with a combination of high bar numbers, sofa closets and two and four tables.

“We improved a little bit. We brought marbles from Hualien County and rattan made by aboriginal families in southern Taiwan,” Chiu said.

“I’m from southern Taiwan. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s sweet potato chair when I was a child when she made fun of me for cooking.”

The seats are made of rattan from southern Taiwan.

The seats are made of rattan from southern Taiwan.

Lion’s Journey

She encouraged Chiu to design a special rattan chair for the Moving Kitchen. Seats can be secured to the floor for safety but are designed to be comfortable.

The arm has a 45 -degree angle, which allows riders to easily access their seats but “those armchairs sit in a very nice restaurant” – according to JC Architecture which has a wealth of design knowledge.

The special lights are designed to make the food delicious and Instagram-friendly. A telephone stand and guidebook are included on the side of the desk. Drivers can change the shape of the thin foil light bulb.

Sold until September

Lion Travel’s Cheng told CNN Travel the response was positive. The gourmet train will launch on March 30 and tickets for the Moving Kitchen tours will go on sale through September.

“On the first trip, we got an orange and black dress – to go with the colors of the train. They were all very happy,” Cheng said.

Moving Kitchen offers one to two day itineraries. Eventually, guests left the train and stayed overnight at a nearby hotel. Six trips leave each month.

Six additional train tours at The Future – excluding the Moving Kitchen – are also available each month. They last for one to four days. The Future train has four commercial cars, with 33 seats.

“I’m very proud of this train. Because I think Taiwan is different. I think it’s unique because the train gives confidence to this 132 -year -old company. And there’s a saying, if TRA can do it , to other branches of government, ”Chiu said.

“I also think there’s a lot of history and culture, we can dig in and tell a new story. So I’m very happy with this one message that changed the public service.”

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