"Signing Ceremony of the Letter of Intent on Railway Heritage Cooperation between Taiwan and India and Celebrations for the 104th Birthday of the Alishan Forest Railway” was held on December 24, 2016 at the Chiayi Garage Park by the Chiayi District Office of the Forestry Bureau and the Alishan Forest Railway Administration of the Taiwan Railways Administration. Tien Chung-kwang, ambassador representing the Taipei Economic & Cultural Centre in India, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Sridharan Madhusudhanan, director general of the India-Taipei Association, signed the LOI. Joined by deputy minister of the Council of Agriculture Weng Chang-liang, legislator Li Chun-yi, director general of the Forestry Bureau Lin Hwa-ching, a few more VIPs and the people of Chiayi, the ceremony marked the effort made to send Alishan Forest Railway to the World Heritage List. Among whistles of some mini trains, all of the attendants wished the Alishan Forest Railway a happy 104th birthday.
Striding towards the World Heritage List
The signing was especially made during the celebration period of the railway’s 104th birthday to highlight this landmark made on Taiwan’s “railway diplomacy.” This also one huge step made as Alishan Forest Railway tries to join the World Heritage List. Deputy Minister of the Council of Agriculture Weng Chang-liang noted that, after the signing of the LOI, Taiwan plans to conduct more plans with India to increase contact and exchange in the private sectors, draw more Indian visitors to appreciate forest railway views in Taiwan, and help the people of both countries to familiarize and befriend one another. The top goal, for sure, is to make Alishan Forest Railway an item on the World Heritage List. Legislator Li Chun-yi said that Alishan Forest Railway is a part of happy childhood memory for many. He will go out of his way to make the railway an officially listed world heritage item and a pride of Taiwan.
Taiwan and India cooperate on railway heritage
On the cooperation, ambassador Tien noted that he hoped the signing today (24) can help to promote the two country’s unique cultures, emphasize sustainable environment conservation, and deepen Taiwan and India’s ties. Taiwan President Tsai Ying-wen’s New Southward Policy and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s Look East Policy are expected to strengthen systematic partnership between the two nations. Director General Madhusudhanan of the India-Taipei Association said he looks forward to further expanding the relationship between India and Taiwan, and thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Council of Agriculture and the people of Chiayi for their support, which made the signing ceremony possible. Huang Miao-hsiu, director of the Chiayi District Office of the Forestry Bureau, added that, of the five railways on the World Heritage List at this moment, three are located in India. It can hence be said that India is the country with the most railway heritage sites in the world. With the singing of the LOI, more projects may be carried out to discuss railway technologies and tourism promotion skills, and Taiwan will also be able to learn about India’s experience in putting its historic railways on the World Heritage List more closely. Taiwan’s responsible agencies look forward to increasing the presence of the Alishan Forest Railway in the globe and making it the sixth railway on the World Heritage List.