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Xinbeitou Historic Station brings back memories

By Yali Chen
A retro vintage train car parked on the railway track at the Xinbeitou Historic Station at Taipei’s Cising Park on August 17 meant that the second phase of the Xinbeitou Historic Station Reconstruction Project had been completed. The car, the track, the rail platform, and ticket booth evoke precious memories of Taiwan’s old trains in the sixties and seventies.
The reconstruction process of this new museum took eight months. Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) held the August 17 opening ceremony to celebrate the completion.
Photo by LRM
Photo by LRM
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (fourth from left in the first row) at the press conference on August 17 to celebrate the completion of the Xinbeitou Historic Station Reconstruction Project.
In his speech, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je said that Taipei seeks to become a city of museums, and therefore needs history, culture and stories. He hopes that after the completion, Xinbeitou would attract more tourists during hot spring festivals and thus promote the prosperity of this historic district.
Ko also brought up a new idea – a wall-less museum. “A museum should not be just a building with a collection of stuff and where you need to buy a ticket to enter. Museums should exude culture, history and tell stories.”
The city government had initially chosen five areas to build wall-less museums. The Xinbeitou Historic Station is the first successful one, said Ko.
A Century-old Station
The interior of the 35TP32850 railcar has been turned into an exhibition space where visitors could learn about the history of the Tamsui Line.
Photo by LRM
The interior of the 35TP32850 railcar has been turned into an exhibition space where visitors could learn about the history of the Tamsui Line.
The Tamsui Line was a railroad branch that ran between the cities of Taipei and New Taipei, and operated by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA). It was the first railway branch in Taiwan to connect Taipei City to Tamsui Town.
Taiwan was under Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945. With 17 stations, the Tamsui Line opened in 1901 and was commonly known as the Taipei-Tamsui Line.
The Japanese government built the Xinbeitou Branch Line to develop the hot spring tourism industry in the Xinbeitou area. The line connected the Xinbeitou Station to the Beitou Station of the Tamsui Line.
The Xinbeitou Station launched its service on April 1, 1916 as a terminal station on the rail line to Beitou’s hot springs. But the entire Tamsui Line, including the Xinbeitou Branch Line, ceased operations on July 15, 1988 due to the construction of the Taipei Metro System.
The building of the Xinbeitou Station was dismantled, with all the components patiently numbered and listed in piles of pages. In the following year, it was bought by the Taiwan Folk Village and had it transported to Changhwa County for a permanent exhibition. The Xinbeitou community said goodbye to its century-old train station.
Photo by LRM
Photo by LRM
The 35TP32850 railcar now functions as an exhibition venue for visitors to better understand the history of the Xinbeitou Historic Station and Tamsui Line.

 In 1995, several teachers from Taipei Municipal Beitou Elementary School launched a campaign to preserve the Beitou Public Bath, built in 1913 as Taiwan’s first public bathhouse. The Beitou Public Bath was successfully turned into the Beitou Hot Spring Museum in 1998.
Along with the preservation of the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, the local community recalled the historic significance of the Xinbeitou Station and in 2004 started to pine for the return of this precious old station.
Xinbeitou residents and the Taipei City Government soon began a campaign to have the station returned to its original location. In 2013, Taiwan Folk Village finally agreed to donate the dismantled Xinbeitou Station building to the Department for Cultural Affairs (DOCA).
Renovation started in 2016 close to the spot in the Xinbeitou District it was first built a century ago, the old station opened to the general public on April 1, 2017. The DOCA’s Committee of Cultural Heritage designated the station as a historic monument on May 30, 2018. The 102-year-old station has finally been restored to its former glory and returned to its hometown.
A Railcar named 35TP32850
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (second from right) views some exhibits in the Xinbeitou Historic Station.
Photo by LRM
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (second from right) views some exhibits in the
Xinbeitou Historic Station.

 The Taipei Metro Tamsui Line now operates along a route similar to that of the TRA Tamsui Line during its existence. And Xinbeitou has the only remaining train station with more than one hundred years on the Tamsui Line.
The original design of the Xinbeitou Station combined traditional Japanese and western architectural elements, a style that started with the Meiji Reform in Japan. With a black-tile roof and wooden frame structure, it has delicately engraved brackets under the eaves and 3-plus-1 dormers.
Visitors would be extremely surprised to find that the station structure was simply made of wooden parts firmly connected by mortises and tenon joints without any nails. Such remarkable workmanship attracted countless tourists in 1937.
When the DOCA returned the station to Xinbeitou, local residents expressed their hope to also see the old station’s platform and tracks. So, in 2017, the DOCA launched the second phase of the station reconstruction project to add the platform, tracks, lighting and drainage facilities at the historic station’s current site.
In addition, the DOCA approached the Taiwan Railway Administration to bring back a 35TP32850 railcar – an ordinary passenger train car that had traveled from Tamsui Town to Taipei City on the Tamsui Line.
The 35TP32850 railcar was one of the first commuter trains with two automatic doors imported from Japan in 1969. At first, it usually ran on the Tamsui Line. There were also a few daily commuter trains with the 35TP32850 railcar to serve passengers who commuted between the Xinbeitou and Taipei Stations.
After dismantling its middle seats, the 35TP32850 railcar was transformed into a baggage car and used to carry passengers’ checked luggage.
Celebrating a Rebirth
A replica of the old ticket booth in the Xinbeitou Historic Station.
Photo by LRM
A replica of the old ticket booth in the Xinbeitou Historic Station.

In 2018, the Kaohsiung Railway Workshop restored the 35TP32850 railcar to its original appearance instead of crushing it into scrap metal.
To celebrate its rebirth and that of the Xinbeitou Historic Station, the DOCA is holding two special exhibitions at Cising Park. The railcar has been turned into an exhibition space to tell the stories of the old Tamsui Line.
The exhibition inside the 35TP32850 has three sections: videos of Beitou residents talking about the Tamsui Line; old photos collected from many train photo collectors; and a story wall of the station.
Some visitors on the day of the opening said they felt nostalgic upon seeing the videos. The second section of old photos depicts the scenery along the Tamsui Line in the 1980s. They are a treasure trove of memories for the older generation and a help for the younger generation to better understand the rise and fall of the Tamsui Line and Xinbeitou Historic Station. The DOCA also had the train handles and original seats re-installed in the railcar.
The other exhibition at the Xinbeitou Historic Station includes a pictorial history of the station’s building and remodeling during the Japanese rule. The old photographs show that it was indeed a landmark in the Xinbeitou District. It was a landmark that had gone through construction, expansion, demolition, and restoration.
In this station exhibition, the DOCA had a 1920s ticket booth rebuilt, as well as a mom-and-pop store
The August 17 opening ceremony was just the beginning of weekend events that include performances by the TDS Taekwondo Freestyle Group, F.E.E.L (a female duo), Taipei Percussion, and Clown Mime Group.
A fair around the old station has local shops selling handmade crafts. Visitors can enjoy beautiful summer time in a pleasant atmosphere.
The DOCA will also hold a series of talks every weekend featuring old railway employees such as ticket collectors, railway engineers, and even some movie bloggers to tell the stories of Taiwan’s railways.
The restoration of the Xinbeitou Historic Station opened a new chapter in the history of the Tamsui Line. The DOCA believes that in addition to the nearby Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Plum Garden, and Puji Temple, the 102-year-old station will become a must-see attraction in the Xinbeitou area and provide visitors with a new window on the glory days of the railroad.