아리산 삼림 철도 (Alishan Forest Railway, 阿里山森林鐵道 )
Operated by the Forestry Bureau, the Alishan Forest Railway is a tourism-focused line providing transportation between the flatland area at Chiayi up the mountain to the peak at Alishan.
Some sections of the tracks are not open for service due to environmental damage. Currently, the train operates between Chiayi and Shizilu, and also operates within the Alishan National Park area. Passengers are advised to travel up most of the distance to Fenqihu town by train, then change to bus or taxi service for the final ascent portion. For user convenience, we have separated the service lines into their functional sections.
After the main Alishan terminus station, two branch lines operate within the park area including the Shenmu Branch, which temporarily runs backward one station along the main line, and the Chushan Line, a special purpose sunrise sightseeing line within the national park.
While tickets for the main Alishan Line can be purchased at all train stations equipping electronic ticketing facilities, Chushan Line tickets must be purchased one day in advance at major stations along the Alishan main line including Chiayi, Beimen, Fenqihu, and Alishan.
Originally an industrial line built for delivery of prized lumber from high in the mountains for export to Japan, passenger services were created to promote tourism in the area after lumber activities decreased. Due to typhoon and earthquake damage, various sections of the line have been closed for public safety during repairs. As of 2015, the major sections of the line from the flatlands up to the town area at Fenqihu have been open for service while the more difficult horseshoe bend and switchback sections higher up have been under repair.
The line passes through several climate zones including tropical, subtropical, temperate, and high-mountain forest ranges, climbing over 2KM. Various flora and fauna can be observed along the railway during different seasons, including species unique to Taiwan and specifically Alishan.
The line is renowned as Asia's highest-elevated railway system, with a considerable amount of interesting engineering techniques allowing the trains to climb the mountain including large bends, looping tracks that follow suitable elevation-grade changes in the natural environment, switchbacks which allows trains to change direction to utilize limited spaces, and tunnels to create additional pathways.