The Alishan Forest Railway is finally coming back to life

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - After nearly 10 years, the most breathtaking section of the one-of-a-kind Alishan Forest Railway will be back in business on July 3.

The rail line, which takes you up 2,216 meters above sea level via narrow, zigzagging tracks, has been in limited operation since Typhoon Morakot in 2009.

This has been a downer for tourists, since the closed section features the jungle-penetrating Z-shaped switchback tracks.

Opened in 1911 to transport timber, the railway covers steep terrain that meant building regular train tracks was a no-go.

The unique switchbacks made the railway possible because they allow trains to travel uphill in a zigzag over particularly steep areas, switching from going forward and backward as they travel from one leg of the "Z" to the next.

After logging in the area ended, the line became one of the island's best-known tourist attractions for its rich history and exotic forest views.

And for the journey itself. Passengers have said that when their train switches directions on a steep hill, they feel like they're "heading into a mountain wall."

There are switchbacks around five stations on the railway, including around Shenmu Station, Alishan Station and Zhaoping Station, the terminus.

Operations will now resume for all of the track covering the switchbacks, following inspections by the Transportation Ministry. Most but not all of the stations along this section will also be reopened.

Those wanting to truly revel in the restored rail line can go on a package tour, which includes train tickets plus a guide. They run every Monday between the first switchback and Zhushan Station, which is popular for its view of Jade Mountain.

It will also stop at Erwanping Station, a favourite spot for viewing seas of clouds.

The tour is NT$880 (S$41) per person and seats are limited to 140 per trip. Individual travellers and small group should make reservations 15 days ahead, while groups of over 10 people should make arrangements online 22 days in advance.

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