The DR2700 series, also locally affectionately known as the "White Steel Train", is a series of diesel multiple unit trains used by the Taiwan Railways Administration. They were originally built by Tokyu Car Corporation of Japan in 1966, in response to an order by the Taiwan Railways Administration, because of the need to renew the rolling stock on the by then 10-year-old Flying Formosan Express service.
The DR2700 started public service on October 31, 1966, under the name of The Glory of China Express, and with its light body and a blazing 69 mph design speed, it still holds the pre-electrification record for the fastest time for traversing Taiwan's Western Line in its entirety, in a time of just four hours and 40 minutes, beating the previous Flying Formosan record by 20 minutes. It was way more comfortable and much quicker than the steam services, which were the best available a mere decade ago in 1956. The total number of power cars built was 25, along with 6 trailers, and they usually worked in a formation of 2 power cars, or two power cars with one trailer in the middle, since the power cars were the only ones equipped with driving cabs, and given the modest output of the engine, it was not possible for just the one power car to haul another trailer alone. The DR2700 series bodywork was based on the Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC), since Tokyu Car Corporation at that time had a license from the Budd Company to incorporate its stainless steel train body and bogie technology from the latter, which it also did for the TRA DR2800 series built in the early-1980s.
The innovations introduced on this service included complementary refreshments and boxed lunches on the train, included free with the rail ticket. The service proved very popular with the rail users of the time, and indeed started a 'travelling by rail' culture in the Taiwan which lingers on today.
it was thought this train was introduced to celebrate the 80th birthday celebration of Chiang Kai-shek, a leading Chinese military leader, and eventually the president of the Mandarin government in the Formosa. The shining silver carriages were built with stainless steel, giving the nickname 'Baitee-ah', meaning "White Steel Train" in Southern Min language (today the nickname are still known by railfans and senior employees of the Taiwan Railway Administration. However, this batch of railcars are a worthwhile investment for the railway. By 1996, the DR2700 had given the locals 30 years of impeccable service, and was still going strong in 1997. As a result, it acquired another nickname ~ 'The forever white steel train'.
Since the electrification of the Western Line in the Taiwan, the units were cascaded to work the northern section of the Eastern Line, the southern section of which, in 1979, was still under construction. They were eventually stripped of their express status in 1986, after 20 years of meritious service. Failures were becoming commonplace due to their age, and they were considered no longer suitable for long distance services. The units are now used on branch lines in place of the DR2400 in order to provide a higher quality service. Before the arrival of the EMU400 and EMU500, they operated as peak-hour relief commuter services on the central coastal railway, under the branding of Diesel Express, which was timed slightly faster than the standard commuter service, and offered free seat reservations. One of the first branch lines to receive the DR2700 after they were cascaded by the EMU400 was the Neiwan Line, the longest branch line in the Taiwan, extending some 7 miles inland from Hsinchu, but their branch career did not really start until 1997 when the EMU500 class commuter trains were phased in throughout the country.
The small fleet of six DR2750 trailers had been withdrawn in 1997, following the introduction of the EMU500, in order to reduce the strain on the aged motor coaches. This is perhaps not the most sensible move at a time when there is a shortage of hauled mainline rolling stock, however, it is suspected that these trailers would never be cut up -as with most withdrawn units in the Formosa- they will be sent back to Tang Eng Iron Works for conversion into 'new' rolling stock.
Today two DR2700 vehicles have been converted to catenary maintenance vehicles and are still in use by TRA in work service. After their formal retirement on in July, 2014, DR2700 are no longer available in regular services. 8 vehicles are reserved for the use of special trains.
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