in , ,

Taiwan Railways Pass (TR Pass)

TR Pass

The TR Pass allows unlimited use of the Taiwan Railways network (TRA) over a specified number of consecutive days. While slower than the Taiwan High Speed Rail, it reaches nearer to many tourist spots across Taiwan. If you plan to also use the High Speed Rail, get a Joint Pass version of the THSR Pass or use the discounted one-way tickets when you need to use the bullet train.

Both locals and foreigners are able to use various configurations of the passes. Those living here are eligible for the ‘General Pass’, but if you are here studying Chinese on a short term basis, the international passes offer significantly lower prices. International students can use these any day of the year and just need to bring both their passports and student identity cards when they purchase the passes. Note that only those staying in Taiwan less than 180 days are allowed to use these lower priced passes. Passes are also available for local students.

Pass typeGeneral International studentsGroup save for 4
3-day passNT$1800NT$599NT$4200
5-day passNT$2500NT$1098NT$7000

For ‘General passes’, children, seniors and persons with disabilities are half price. Families or large groups should use the ‘Group save for 4’ pass.

Validity

  • Valid on the main Taiwan Railways network, which circles around the whole of the main island, connecting major cities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, with a few connected branch lines such as the Pingxi Line.
  • General passes are valid on Local, Express trains and Limited Express trains, including the Taroko Express and Puyuma Express. Student passes are not allowed to be used on the Limited Express trains but can ride lower classed trains.
  • Not valid on the Alishan Forest Railway and special tour trains.
  • Not valid on the Taiwan High Speed Rail.
  • The General and Group passes are not usable during the Spring festival period.
Puyuma Express
The Puyuma Express, one of the fastest trains on the network of Taiwan Railways

Can the pass be transferred or shared?

No, the pass is only for personal use and can only be used by the person named on the pass.

Is it based on calendar days or 24-hour periods?

The validity of your pass is based on calendar days (midnight to midnight) and not on 24-hour periods. In other words the pass starts at 00:00 and ends at 23:59.

Purchase and exchange

The TR Pass can only be bought at Taiwan Railways ticket kiosks, such as at Taipei station and other major stations across the main island. The passes are valid for 30 days from the date of purchase.

How to use the TR Pass

Entry to the platforms is only via the manned gates, so show your pass to the attendant to enter or exit.

How to make seat reservations

General and group pass holders can make seat reservations on Express and Limited Express trains for free at any ticket office by presenting their pass. Reservations cannot be made at ticket machines or online.

Puruma Express
Limited Express trains have modern interiors like this, but other trains tend to be rather basic

Those with a student pass cannot make reservations on Express trains (Chu-kuang and Fu-hsing). This means that during busy times you may have to stand during your journey.

Are seat reservations mandatory or recommended?

While it’s not always necessary to have reservations, during busy periods having the stay standing on crowded trains might be too much for some. Reservations can only be made one at a time, so try to book seats if you have a long journey coming up. Note that penalties may apply if you change reservations too frequently.

Pingxi Line Train
An example of a local train on Taiwan Railways

Does the Taiwan Railways Pass (TR Pass) pay off?

If you are only able to get a general or group pass, you’ll really need to travel quite a bit on Taiwan Railways to get your money’s worth. For example, a standard adult ticket with Taiwan Railways from Taipei to Kaosiung costs NT$843 on a Limited Express train. This means that if you were to spend three or five days doing a circular trip around Taiwan then you could save quite a bit. On the other hand, if you are just staying in one or two counties and cities, it’s going to be difficult to make any savings.

For international students, the passes are so cheap that you could be saving money before the end of your first day, so they are a real no-brainer. If you are worried that the older trains of Taiwan Railways won’t be comfortable enough for three or five days, or you’ll need to travel a bit on the more spacious high speed trains, then it probably makes more sense to consider a joint pass.

There are also TR passes for smaller areas in Taiwan that might make more sense if you have already decided to visit these places, and don’t need a pass that covers the whole island. Examples include the Pingxi Line day pass for the Pingxi tourist area and the northern pass for a wider area around the north.  Combining such a pass with Taiwan High Speed Rail tickets might be more efficient and a quicker way to get around.

Before you buy a TR Pass, check out the official TRA website (Taiwan Railways) and THSR website (Taiwan High Speed Rail) to see how much your trip would cost you with single tickets. This will give you a general idea of what TR Pass to get, or if it might actually be a better idea to get a Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass.

Written by Taiwanna Travel

Editorial account for Taiwanna Travel

Leave a Reply