Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 25 2007

Political HSR? Or just "mountain and ocean views"?

The other day I was looking at the High Speed Rail schedule I have at the office, and I noticed that the HSR chose to print the label the southbound train schedule in green, and the northbound one in blue. I wonder, is this deliberate or just some kind of Freudian Slip? If the former, do we really need the HSR to contribute to the political polarization of Taiwan?

Perhaps the HSR seeks to reassure potential passengers that they will indeed be approach the pan-green/pan-blue bastion of their choice when traveling in a certain direction. A color bar installed in each car would gauge the political climate of the country the train is passing through for the passengers’ reference: “Ooh, look at how deep the green is here, this rice field must be a pocket of TSU supporters!” or “Look, honey, this village is PFP!”

They might even include soothing messages on the trains themselves, a la “Yes, valued passenger, you are truly on your way out of the dark tunnel of national political intrigue to the verdant, green, pro-independence homeland, land of the DPP, land of Chen Shui-bian and Frank Hsieh, and the thriving port-metropolis of Kaohsiung” or “Relax, honored guest, this train is bearing you away from the chaotic south towards the solid, reliable, ordered north, back to economic surety and practical values, home of the glorious capital and its convenient mass-transit system, orderly traffic and international style.” They could have “pan-green” cars with Minnan and Japanese announcements, that serve sweet-potato-based meals have extra storage space for, say, chickens, while “pan-blue” cars would have announcements in Mandarin and English, featuring iced taro desserts and waterproof floors for umbrellas to drain on.

Of course, both types of cars would have pictures of dancing aborigines.


“This is Customer Service Center from Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC), as for your inquiry:

‘You have printed the schedule for southbound trains in green and the one for northbound trains in blue. Is this intended to reflect political demographics on the island of Taiwan? Or is it a mere coincidence?’

THSRC has replied as follows:

Dear Mr. Lin,

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation.

A double-track line is installed on the entire route. Under normal operations, the trains should travel on the tracks on the left-hand side. Passengers seated on the left side of the southbound train are able to enjoy the mountain view, therefore the southbound timetable is represented in the color green. It is the ocean view on the left side for northbound trains; hence the northbound timetable is shown in the color blue.

Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.


Taiwan High Speed Rail

Customer Service Center”

posted by Poagao at 3:48 am  


  1. Interesting observation. I wonder if someone made a deliberate choice about it or if it is just a coincidence.

    Send an e-mail to the customer service center of the HSR about it. They are prompt to reply and I would be curious to know their response.

    Comment by david on formosa — April 26, 2007 @ 1:18 am

  2. This is a great post. Very funny.

    Anyway, I first saw some of your photographs in (if I remember correctly) Taiwan Review and was impressed. I am curious if there is any way to purchase them.

    Comment by Big Ell — April 26, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

  3. notice that explanation only works if you’re sitting on the left-hand side of the train; for everyone else, it’s politics as usual. now I can’t wait to take the train.

    Comment by prince roy at-large — April 27, 2007 @ 4:48 am

  4. […] makes an interesting observation about the high speed rail and gets a similarly interesting […]

    Pingback by David on Formosa » Links 1 May 2007 — May 3, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

  5. What a classic explanation! It fits for half of the train, and is completely at odds with the other half.

    Comment by Mark — May 4, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

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