Taiwan Railway Mealbox

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Taiwan Railway Mealbox
TRA Bento pork ribs rice from Xizhi inside 20130316.jpg
A regular Taiwan Railway Mealbox for 60NTD (2USD)
Traditional Chinese臺鐵便當 or
台鐵便當
Simplified Chinese台铁便当
The exterior of an 80-NTD pork chop railway mealbox

Taiwan Railway Mealboxes are a type of ekiben (bento boxed meals) manufactured and distributed by the Taiwan Railways Administration at major railway stations and in train cars. It is estimated that, with five million boxed meals sold per annum, the annual revenue from bento distribution is 370 million NTD (approx. 10 million USD).[1][2][3]

History[edit]

During the Japanese era, train passengers either dined at a dining car or opted for an ekiben. However, ekiben boxes were only available at stations, not in train cars.

Under the Chinese Nationalists' rule from 1945 onwards, a variety of private catering services sprang up as railway transportation gained popularity. These services were then integrated by the Taiwan Railway Administration in 1960, gradually shaping the major source of revenues of the administration other than transport itself.

On 9 Jun 2000, the pork chop bento, which had been discontinued for 32 years, reappeared in public on the Railways Festival. The originally estimated one thousand boxes to be sold turned out to be a sales of over 90 thousand due to their popularity.

On 26 Feb 2015, Keikyu Corporation began its distribution of Taiwan Railway Mealboxes.

Ingredients and distribution[edit]

A distribution spot at Taipei Railway Station.
Twelve packing boxes of ekibens on an EMU 600 Local Train

Known primarily for their pork chop, Taiwan Railway Mealboxes contain a variety of side dishes apart from rice, including a braised egg, a piece of dried tofu, several pieces of dried white radish among others.

The Taiwan Railways Administration has established five catering zones at Songshan Station, Taipei Railway Station, Taichung TRA station, Kaohsiung Station and Hualien Station respectively, where staff members of the TRA hand over mealboxes to car attendants for on-board distribution. On board during meal time (11:00-13:00 and 17:00-19:00), car attendants ask if there are passengers who would like a bento in Mandarin and Hokkien along the aisle with a trolley cart.

The containers used to be made of stainless steel, which were returned and washed after the contents had been consumed. However, due to exceedingly high costs and low return rates (passengers brought the steel boxes home without permission), the administration instead provide food in disposable paper boxes.

Railroad Bento Festival[edit]

The first Formosa Railroad Bento Festival was set to take place from July 17 to 20, 2015.[4][5][6][7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 劉文駿, 王威傑 & 楊森豪 (2003), pp. 137-142.
  2. ^ 戴寶村 & 蔡承豪 (2009), pp. 83-7.
  3. ^ 洪致文 (2011), pp. 114-6.
  4. ^ 楊竣傑 (2015-03-01). 6國鐵道便當 7月大PK. 中國時報 (in Chinese).
  5. ^ Vivian Liu (July 16, 2015). "Weekend festival to feature railway bento boxes: TRA". The China Post. Taiwan.
  6. ^ Shelley Shan (July 16, 2015). "Railways' boxed lunches featured at culinary festival". Taipei Times. Taiwan.
  7. ^ "First Formosa Railroad Bento Festival Features Railway Culture and Cuisine". Taiwan Railways Administration, MOTC. 2015-07-24.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 劉文駿; 王威傑; 楊森豪 (2003). 百年台灣鐵道 (in Chinese). 果實. ISBN 986-7796-11-X.
  • 戴寶村; 蔡承豪 (2009). 縱貫環島‧臺灣鐵道 (in Chinese). 國立臺灣博物館. ISBN 978-986-02-1091-0.
  • 洪致文 (2011). 台灣鐵道文化志 (in Chinese). 遠足文化. ISBN 978-986-6731-70-9.