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The city of Hong Kong was handed over to China by the British government in 1997, but still has a special status within the huge country. It has a population of 7.2 million and spreads out over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories.

The Hong Kong urban and suburban areas were long served by two railway operators: MTR Corporation (Mass Transit Railway Corporation) and KCRC (Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation). The MTR Corporation operated 7 lines including the Airport Express. The KCRC ran 3 suburban lines and the LRT (light rail) system in the North-West District of Hong Kong. On 2 Dec 2007, operations of the KCRC were transferred to the MTRC, with the combined railway system now operated under MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL):

The original MTR Network

Kwun Tong  © Thomas SchunkDating back to the 1960s, the British HK government saw the need for an urban mass transit railway system to cope with the transportation needs of what is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. A plan of 4 railway lines, with alignment similar to today's Kwun Tong Line, Tsuen Wan Line, Island Line and the future Shatin-to-Central Link, was formulated. The government decided to run the system under a then wholly-government owned company, Mass Transit Railway Corporation (now known as MTR Corporation).

© Thomas SchunkThe first three lines were completed between 1979 and 1985, and the East Kowloon Line (now Shatin-Central Link) was shelved to direct capital for the immense new Airport project, which was completed in 1998 and includes the Airport Express and a new metro line, Tung Chung Line. The MTR network expanded to new residential districts with the opening of the Tseung Kwan O Line in 2002 (with a branch added in 2009). In 2005, the world's only dedicated metro line for Disneyland, the Disneyland Resort Line, was opened to the public together with the Disneyland theme park.

HK MTR is famous for its cleanliness, ease of use, safety and reliability. By 2005 all underground stations had been equipped with platform screen doors. Route maps on trains are installed with LED lighting to indicate location of trains and transfer information. Cross-platform interchange is available at most transfer stations.

The former KCRC Network

Construction of the Kowloon-Canton Railway started in 1907, with the British (Hong Kong) Section opening in 1910 and completion of the Chinese Section in 1911. The single-track, steam-powered inter-city railway connected the city of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province in China some 100 km away from Hong Kong. Canton was a misnomer of Guangzhou, and Kowloon refers to the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong. It was not until 1983, when the doubling and electrification programme of the Kowloon-Canton Railway was completed, that the railway (HK section) became a suburban railway with intermediate stations that connect remote urban districts in Hong Kong. The Kowloon-Canton Railway HK section, is the present East Rail Line, and it carries local suburban rail, inter-city passenger service, while freight operations ceased in 2010 after fierce competition from other modes. The East Rail Line serves two border stations, Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau, where passengers can enter the PRC's territory and interchange to the Shenzhen Metro.

The KCRC built the West Rail and Ma On Shan Rail in the late 1990s. These two railway lines are purely local suburban railways that link various new towns to central Hong Kong and were completed in 2003 and 2004. A link in downtown Kowloon between West Rail and East Rail was established on 16 Aug 2009, with the interchange point between the two systems moved to Hung Hom.

Work on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (Lok Ma Chau <> Sheung Shui), the second urban link with Shenzhen, was started in early 2003 and opened on 15 Aug 2007. The 7.4 km project comprises a large portion of tunnels that run through the ecologically sensitive area of Long Valley, viaducts and the Lok Ma Chau station, the new terminal with immigration facilities.

It was proposed by the HK government in 2006 to merge the KCRC and the MTRC to form one integrated metro company. The merger was effective on 2 Dec 2007.

 MTR Lines Overview

Route length (km)


Opened in


Rolling stock manufacturer

Kwun Tong Line





1432 mm rail gauge, 1500 V DC

Metro Cammell/CNR

Tsuen Wan Line




Metro Cammell

Island Line




Tung Chung Line





Tseung Kwan O Line




ROTEM/Metro Cammell

Disneyland Resort Line





Metro Cammell

Airport Express





1432 mm rail gauge, 1500 V DC


East Rail



1910 (electrified in 1983)


1435 mm track gauge, 25 kV AC

Kinki Sharyo/ Metro Cammell

Lok Ma Chau Spur

West Rail





Kinki Sharyo

Ma On Shan Rail





 MTR Lines
 Kwun Tong Line

Tiu Keng Leng – Yau Ma Tei: 15.8 km – 15 stations

Opened in 1979 as the Modified Initial System (MIS), the Kwun Tong Line is the first metro opening to the public in Greater China (Beijing Subway was officially “under testing” until 1980s). The line used to cross the harbour, but was replaced by the Tsuen Wan Line in 1982 and the Tseung Kwan O Line in 2002. The crowded urban environment of Hong Kong may be experienced when travelling along the viaducts from Kowloon Bay to Lam Tin, showing the interlocking road structures and grade-separation measures. The line will soon be extended to Whampoa via Ho Man Tin, providing the large residential development with a railway service.

 Tsuen Wan Line

Tsuen Wan – Central: 16.9 km – 16 stations

The Tsuen Wan Line opened as the Tsuen Wan Extension in 1982, serving the satellite city of Tsuen Wan and the major corridor along Cheung Sha Wan Road and Nathan Road, with its passengers including those who transferred from road traffic from the New Territories towns, leading to overcrowding before the completion of Tung Chung Line in the late 1990s. The line is constantly crowded, being the link between major commercial centres of Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and the Central District.

 Island Line

Kennedy Town – Chai Wan: 16.3 km – 17 stations

The Island Line was thought to be able to replace the tram on Hong Kong Island when planned, and is unique in most of its stations being constructed in tunnel bores, with smaller platforms and curving-in walls creating a claustrophobic environment. MTR mitigated by putting large calligraphy reproductions of the station names on the walls, with such names becoming an artistic feature not found on other urban lines. Its former western terminus, Sheung Wan, had a section of a platform built to accommodate the East Kowloon Line, which has since been refilled and reconstructed as passageways to prepare for the extension to the Western District after the plans for the East Kowloon Line had been shelved and modified.

 Tung Chung Line

Tung Chung – Hong Kong: 31.1 km – 8 stations

The Airport Express and Tung Chung Line are collectively known as the Airport Railway, linking the city with the Airport and its supporting new town of Tung Chung since 1998. The two lines share tracks on the Tsing Ma Bridge and when crossing the harbour. The railway proved to be a crucial link of the Lantau Island in adverse weather, being the only form of transportation available when the highway was once unexpectedly flooded and blocked due to landslides. The cross-platform interchange with Tsuen Wan Line at Lai King proved to be effective in transferring the load of the Tsuen Wan Line to a faster corridor, leaving the capacity for the Nathan Road corridor.

 Disneyland Resort Line

Sunny Bay – Disneyland Resort: 3.5 km – 2 stations

Originally called the Penny’s Bay Rail Link, the Disneyland Resort Line is the first fully automated heavy-rail line in Hong Kong and the world’s first dedicated railway for a Disneyland Resort, opening in 2005 before the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Trains were refurbished and redesigned to a Disney theme to provide passengers with the experience akin to the theme park.

 Tseung Kwan O Line

Po Lam / LOHAS Park – Quarry Bay: 15.5 km – 8 stations

The Tseung Kwan O Line utilises a reserved corridor in the middle of the new town to provide convenient access for the high-density developments surrounding the stations. The planning of the town is based on the idea that the stations should be within walking distance of the residents. The depot of the line at Tseung Kwan O South is combined with housing developments on top in a similar manner as the other depots for the urban lines. This form of residential development is how the railway company was able to finance its lines and provide the supporting passenger base at the same time.

 East Rail

Lo Wu / Lok Ma Chau – Hung Hom: 41.4 km – 14 stations

The original Kowloon Canton Railway, a railway that connects to China and beyond, formed a substantial part of the present East Rail Line service. The railway was steam and later diesel-powered in its early years, being an inter-city long distance railway. It began its commuter rail service in 1983 after electrification and double-tracking, becoming the spine of the transport system of new towns in East New Territories. Modernisation of the fleet in 1998 marked the transformation of the KCRC into a metro operator in anticipation of the completion of the West Rail. The railway returned to Tsim Sha Tsui, the place where the railway began in 1910, briefly before the opening of the Kowloon Southern Link when the West Rail was extended to Hung Hom. The East Rail will be extended across the harbour to Admiralty, forming a North-South corridor that connects the border to the Central Business District of Hong Kong.

 West Rail

Tuen Mun – Hung Hom: ~35 km – 12 stations

The northwestern New Territories was not served by the metro system until the opening of the West Rail in 2003. The line is characterised by its long viaduct sections in flood-prone areas and by its large stations. The Pat Heung Depot was the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia when it opened. The Northern Link is a long term extension of the West Rail to the border, potentially alleviating the crowds on East Rail and diverting the increased patronage from new developments in the area.

 Ma On Shan Rail

Wu Kai Sha – Tai Wai: 11.4 km – 9 stations

The Ma On Shan Line was built as a spur line of the East Rail to serve the eastern portion of the Sha Tin–Ma On Shan New Town. The stations are closely connected to the population centres of the town in the same manner as the Tseung Kwan O Line, both being planned together with the new towns, thus the line was dubbed the “community railway”. The line will be extended to connect with the West Rail through eastern Kowloon Peninsula, replacing the alignment and function of the former East Kowloon Line, forming the East-West Corridor from Wu Kai Sha to Tuen Mun.

 Airport Express

Hong Kong – AsiaWorld-Expo: 35.3 km – 5 stations

The Airport Express operates at the top speed of 135 km/h, linking the city centre at Central to the Airport in just 24 minutes. In-city Check-in Service is available at Hong Kong and Kowloon stations, with the luggage loaded onto the carriage at the Hong Kong end of the train specially designed for the service. The trains are technically identical to the trains on the Tung Chung Line, but were specially designed for comfort in long-distance travel. Special fares are available when there are exhibitions and performances at AsiaWorld-Expo to cater for the huge crowds from elsewhere in the city. Tung Chung Line trains will also occasionally go to that station during such events.


1) Mass Transit Railway Corporation Lines:

01/10/1979: Kwun Tong Line Kwun Tong - Shek Kip Mei
Kowloon Bay © Thomas Schunk 31/12/1979: Kwun Tong Line (Shek Kip Mei) - Mong Kok - Yau Ma Tei - Jordan - Tsim Sha Tsui
12/02/1980: Tsuen Wan Line (Tsim Sha Tsui) - Admiralty - Central (as a part of the Kwun Tong Line)
10/05/1982: Tsuen Wan Line
(Jordan) - Yau Ma Tei - Mong Kok - Prince Edward - Lai King - Kwai Fong - Kwai Hing - Tai Wo Hau - Tsuen Wan
___________Kwun Tong Line
Prince Edward added
17/05/1982: Tsuen Wan Line
- Sham Shui Po - Cheung Sha Wan - Lai Chi Kok - Mei Foo - stations opened with a week delay
31/05/1985: Island Line
Chai Wan - Admiralty
23/05/1986: Island Line
Admiralty - Sheung Wan
05/08/1989: Kwun Tong Line
Kwun Tong - Quarry Bay
22/06/1998: Tung Chung Line
Hong Kong - Tung Chung
06/07/1998: Airport Express
Hong Kong - Airport
27/09/2001: Kwun Tong Line
Quarry Bay - North Point
04/08/2002: Kwun Tong Line
Lam Tin - Yau Tong
Yau Tong - North Point integrated into Tsueng Kwan O Line
___________Tseung Kwan O Line
Po Lam - Yau Tong; Kwun Tong Line continued to Tiu Keng Leng
16/12/2003: Tung Chung Line
Nam Cheong
01/06/2005: Tung Chung Line Sunny Bay
01/08/2005: Disneyland Resort Line
Sunny Bay-Disneyland
20/12/2005: Airport Express Airport - AsiaWorld-Expo

2) Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation Lines:

01/10/1910: KCR (British Section) Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui, temporary) – Yaumatei – Shatin – Tai Po (Tai Po Kau) – Tai Po Market - Fanling
08/10/1911: KCR (Chinese Section) Shenzhen – Canton (Guangzhou)
28/10/1911: KCR Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) – Canton (Guangzhou): through train service
01/04/1912: KCR Sha Tau Kok Branch Line Fanling – Sha Tau Kok
28/03/1916: KCR (British Section) Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui): permenant station
01/04/1928: KCR Sha Tau Kok Branch Line defunct
xx/xx/1930: KCR Main Line Sheung Shui
xx/xx/1950: KCR Wo Hop Shek Branch Line Wo Hop Shek
24/09/1956: KCR Main Line Ma Liu Shui
02/09/1962: KCR Main Line: dieselisation, steam engines ceased operation
11/12/1966: KCR Main Line Ma Liu Shui -> University
30/11/1975: KCR Main Line Kowloon (Hung Hom) completed as new terminus; Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) stopped service, demolished in 1978
06/05/1982: KCR Main Line Kowloon (Hung Hom) – Shatin (Electrification First Phase); Kowloon Tong as interchange with MTR System
10/04/1983: KCR Wo Hop Shek Branch Line defunct due to electrification
02/05/1983: KCR Main Line Shatin – Tai Po Market (Electrification Second Phase)
15/07/1983: KCR Main Line Tai Po Market – Lo Wu (Electrification and Modernisation Completed)
15/08/1983: KCR Main Line Tai Wai (temporary)
15/02/1985: KCR Main Line Fo Tan
01/10/1985: KCR Racecourse
23/04/1986: KCR Main Line Tai Wai
16/01/1987: KCR Main Line Lo Wu (new)
09/05/1989: KCR Main Line Tai Wo
20/12/2003: KCRC
West Rail Nam Cheong - Tuen Mun
24/10/2004: KCRC East Rail Hung Hom - East Tsim Sha Tsui
21/12/2004: KCRC Ma On Shan Rail Tai Wai - Wu Kai Sha 
15/08/2007: KCRC
East Rail Sheung Shui - Lok Ma Chau (7.4km)

3) since unification > MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL):
02/12/2007: East Rail Line Mong Kok -> Mong Kok East
26/07/2009: Tseung Kwan O LineTseung Kwan O - LOHAS Park (3km)
West Rail Line Nam Cheong - East Tsim Sha Tsui (- Hung Hom)
Island Line Sheung Wan - Kennedy Town (3 km)
Island Line Sai Ying Pun station added


Under construction:

2016: Kwun Tong Line Yau Ma Tei - Whampoa
2016/2017: South Island Line Admiralty - South Horizons: ~7 km – 5 stations, to become the second heavy-rail line on the Hong Kong Island, linking the Southern District to the northern shore with a medium-capacity system. The half of the line opening in 2016/2017 will be the eastern section, with the western section in planning. The line serves the Ocean Park, a famous local theme park popular among tourists, thus it is expected that the line will be crowded at times and there have been capacity concerns from the community.

2019-2020: East West Line Tai Wai – Hung Hom (- Tuen Mun)
2019-2020: South North Line Hung Hom – Admiralty
20xx: South Island Line (West) HKU – Wong Chuk Hang
20xx: Northern Link Kam Sheung Road – Kwu Tung
20xx: East Kowloon Line (2014 Plan) Diamond Hill – Po Lam
20xx: South North Line Kwu Tung
20xx: East West Line Hung Shui Kiu
20xx: East West Line Tuen Mun South
20xx: Tung Chung Line Tung Chung West

Click here for project details!


Tuen Mun Light Rail Click here to visit our HK Light Rail page!  

Hong Kong Heritage TramwayIn 2004, Hong Kong's downtown tramway celebrated its 100th anniversary. It is the world's only double-decker tram that is in commercial operation. The system was first proposed in 1881, but failed to attract private investment for nearly 20 years.

The tram runs between the East and West of the north shore of the HK Island, along the busiest trunk road of the island, and spans to the Happy Valley Racecourse in a little loop. The system is entirely at grade, and shares roads with common vehicles. It takes 45 mins from Shau Kei Wan to Central (on MTR: 19 mins). There is no air-conditioning yet the fare is very low. Its easily accessible locations, price and open view make it an ideal transport among visitors and budget commuters.

View complete map!


- route length 30 km
- 1067 mm gauge
- operated by Veolia


MTR Corporation Ltd (Metro network Official site)
      - New Extensions and Projects

Hong Kong Tramways Ltd (Street Tram network Official Site)

Octopus Cards (Smart card official site)

Public Transport in Hong Kong (governmental)

MTR at Wikipedia

Hong Kong Mass Transit Info Center

Announcement broadcast on Subway Trains

Great Hong Kong Rail Map from JohoMaps

Interactive Map at ExploreHK

UrbanRail.Net > Hong Kong MTR Gallery (by Thomas Schunk, Keith Fielder)


Inside train © Thomas Schunk Tsuen Wan Line panel  © Thomas Schunk

Photos © Thomas Schunk (More photos)


Year of the Monkey 2004




2004 © UrbanRail.Net by Robert Schwandl.



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