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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 6.9 million and spreads out over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

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 the two companies merged and now operate as 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 transporation needs of what is one of the most densly 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 1910 and it opened in 1911. The single-track, diesel-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 1982, 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 and freight transport. The East Rail Line currently terminates at the border Lo Wu station, 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

Route length (km)


Opened in


Rolling stock manufacturer

Kwun Tong Line





1432 mm rail gauge, 1500 V DC

ROTEM/Metro Cammell

Tsuen Wan Line




Metro Cammell

Island Line




Tung Chung Line





Tseung Kwan O Line




Metro Cammell

Disneyland Resort Line





Airport Express





1432 mm rail gauge, 1500 V DC


East Rail



1911 (electrified in 1982)


1435 mm track gauge, 25 kV AC
overhead line

Kinki Sharyo/ Metro Cammell

Lok Ma Chau Spur

West Rail





Kinki Sharyo

Ma On Shan Rail






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 - 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
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
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
15/08/2007: KCRC East Rail Sheung Shui - Lok Ma Chau (7.4km)
26/07/2009: Tseung Kwan O Line Tseung Kwan O - LOHAS Park (3km)
West Rail Nam Cheong - East Tsim Sha Tsui (- Hung Hom)


Under construction:
2012: Island Line Sheung Wan - Kennedy Town (3 km)
201?: South Island Line Admiralty - South Horizons

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

Construction Photos of Tseung Kwan O Line

Hong Kong Mass Transit Info Center

Announcement broadcast on Subway Trains

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

Great Hong Kong Rail Map from JohoMaps

Interactive Map at ExploreHK


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

Photos © Thomas Schunk (More photos)


Year of the Monkey 2004


Thanks to Hon Wai, Wilson Lui, Carl Yiu, Peter Lo amd Jeremy Lau for their updates and help!



2004 © UrbanRail.Net by Robert Schwandl.



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