From wooden shed to underground complex

Taipei Main Station traces its roots back to the first railway station built along the Tamsui River during the Qing dynasty rule. From a single-storey wooden shed to the iconic landmark of Taipei it is today, the station has become synonymous with the city's old downtown. Over the years it has moved several times, undergone expansion and taken on additional functions in a modernisation drive that has been broadly categorised into five generations. Jermyn Chow looks at how the station has evolved over the years.

1891 to 1901 (First generation)

• Built during the Qing rule, as part of the dynasty's first rail experiment.

• Backed by the first governor of the newly established Taiwan province, Liu Ming-chuan, who is also known as the founding father of Taiwan's railway.

• Said to be China's first railway and station.

• 106.7km-long railroad linked Keelung, Taipei and Hsinchu county, mainly used to transport goods and raw materials.

• Train ride from Keelung to Taipei took about six hours.

1901 to 1941 (Second generation)

• Reconstruction undertaken after the First Sino-Japanese War, which ended in 1895.

• Station moved from Tamsui Fishing Port to the heart of Taipei.

• Well known for its distinctive light blue roof that is made of cypress wood.

• 399km-long rail link from Taipei to Kaohsiung was built in 1908.

1941 to 1985 (Third generation)

• Renowned for its facilities, which include conference rooms for business professionals and the railway station's first restaurant.

• First achieved its commuter hub status, with rail links to the western counties of Hualien and Taitung.

• First machine-printed tickets issued.

1985 to 1989 (Fourth generation)

• Served as an interim station while the government started building its underground rail network.

1989 to present (Fifth generation)

• Taiwan's first underground railway station.

• Served by the regular train service, with the high-speed rail and Taipei Metro services subsequently added to the network.

• Electronic information boards installed.

• Hit by flooding triggered by Typhoon Nari in 2001.

• Installed new leakproof roof and lighting system.

• Handles 600,000 commuters and visitors each day.

• Footfall expected to hit 700,000 when the MRT linking Taoyuan Airport and Taipei City opens at the end of this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'From wooden shed to underground complex'. Subscribe