Hong Kong
subway and light rail

Hong Kong features no less than five varieties of fixed guideway urban rail transit: the subway, a subway-like commuter rail line, streetcars, light rail, and two airport rapid rail lines.

Photos from Mathew Lau. New carriages, 1999


The subway, opened in 1979,  is run by the
MTR(Mass Transit Railway). The system consists of eleven lines, including the Kwun Tong ("Cantonese") line, Tsuen Wan, Island and Tung Chung.  Of these, 3 lines came about due to the MTR=KCR merger in 2007. Forty-three km of the system are below ground. Extensions to all eleven lines are either under construction or in the planning stages.

In 2002, the new
10 km, 7 station Tseung Kwan O line opened, bringing Hong Kong's subway to 5 lines and 80.4 km and 49 stations.

A 3.2 km
Penny's Bay subway to the New Hong Kong Disneyland started in 2005. It is now known as the Disneyland Line.

In August 2009. the Kowloon Southern Link opened. The link connects Nam Cheong with East Tsim Sha Tsui and includes an intermediuate station named Austin.

Address: Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corp.
P.O. Box 9916
General Post Office, Hong Kong

Hong Kong page
MTR's 25th Anniversary Home Page and Club
Vincent Yung's
Hong Kong Railway Information
MTR Corporate Page
New Hong Kong subway line comes in 40% under budget
Souvenier subway tickets
Tour of the MTR

Airport Express

MTR also runs the 35.3 km, 5 station airport express. Most of the line parallels the MTR's Tung Chung subway line. Both trains have screened station platforms. The AE also has a baggage car, and business class seats with a personal TV screen attached to the back of the forward seat.

Coupled with the airport express is a similar line, the 14 km, 11 station Lantau Line. Eight 8 km are underground and the remainder is elevated, including the spectacular trip over the new Tsing Ma suspension bridge. Rolling stock is similar to the airport express but with less amenities to accomodate a more urban, rapid transit operation.

A page about the new MTR line to the airport
Railway Technology - Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation Hong Kong Airport Railway
Airport Express
photos - amazing

KCR (Kowloon- Canton Railway)

Until December 2007, the KCRC operated both a commuter line which resembles a subway and could be classified as an S-Bahn, and the light railway. It has since been absorbed by the MTR. The commuter line, known as East Rail, opened in 1910 and was electrified in 1983. It consists on 15 stations on a 35.2 km route, and connects Kowloon with Lo Wu on the mainland. The new 1.2 km extension of the line to Tsim Sha Tsui became the first underground section on the KCR.

A 7.4km spur line linking
Sheung Shui to Lok Ma ("No Hands") Chau opened in 2007. The alignment will begin with a 4.3km underground tunnel, with Kwu Tung station being at the tunnel entrance.  In Lok Ma Chau, the line  interconnects with the new Shenzen metro.

Lok Ma Chau and Tsim Sha Tsui are located in the Frontier Closed Areas.

The line also has a spur that services the racetrack (Racecourse Station) during racing season.

The 20 km, 9 station
West Rail line opened in 2003, including two underground stops. Two West Rail extensions are currently under construction, one on each end of the line.

A new 9 station, 30 km West Rail line, which began construction in 1988, opened in December 2003. It connects the North West New Territories (Tuen Mun) with Kowloon. Also included will be a peoplemover from Kowloon to Whampoa Gardens.

Since originally writing this essay in 2002, an extension to the East Rail Line was added which has become its own line, known as the
Mah On Shan Line.  It has 8 stations, is 11.4 km and opened in December 2004. 

Incredible West Rail photos
Kowloon-Canton Railway
Brief pictorialMap
Great, detailed history from the
Hong Kong Railway Society
Nice shot of the KCR


Tuen Mun Light Railway

The light rail line, run by the Kowloon Canton Railway Corp, opened for business in 1988. Much in the way of the Shaker Heights light rail lines in Cleveland, the systems was built, in part, to serve the Tuen Mun development, also built and run by the KCRC.

The 11 route system consists of 36.2 km and 68 stops, and is mostly at grade. Most of the routes are spurs off of two main branch lines.

Other upgrades and extensions include integrations with the KCR West Line, also under construction, via a 1.7 km, 4 station loop to Tin Shui Wa terminus. Another 2.65 km, 5 station extension is planned. Though construction on the latter extension hasn't begun, it is expected to be complete for the opening of the KCR West Rail line.

In May 2013 a train at Tin shui Wei
derailed injuring 77

Very brief info on the new LRT
KCRC's page on the new LRT with photos

info page
Photos from LRTA
photo gallery


The 16 km, 8 route streetcar system was built by the British in 1904. Most of the current double axle, double  decker rolling stock was built in the 1980's. The line consists of a city center loop and an east-west route across Hong Kong Island's north shore. It is the only tram system in the world to maintain a full double decker fleet.  Included in the system's features is the open balcony Dim Sum tourist tram. Bring your appetite.

Hong Kong Trams(with a virtual tram ride)
BS Hong Kong Tram
Photo Gallery
Images ofHong Kong trams from Yokhoo
HKT Site in Chinese
Photo gallery
Brief history

Hong Kong is also home to the
Peak Tramway. Built in 1988, the tram climbs a 373-metre gradient (1305 feet) to Victoria Peak. It's been described as a "must see" by many Hong Kong visitors. The lower station is on Garden Road across from the American Consulate.

General links of interest

Getting Around Hong Kong
Public Transport in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Rail Engineering Center

According to one source, here is a list of future extensions that are either planned or under construction:

1) West Island Line

  This is an extension of the Island Line from Sheung Wan to the west with 3 more stations (from east to west): Sai Ying Pun, University (a.k.a. University of Hong Kong, HKU) and Kennedy Town. Construction started in August 2008, and service is due to begin in 2014. All these are underground stations. Sai Ying Pun and University stations are built deep in the hillside, so some of the entrances would use high-speed escalators to serve passengers up the Mid-Levels.

  The name of University station is still tentative and there has been a heated debate for the station name between students of HKU and Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The current University station is on the East Rail Line and is located at one of the entrances of CUHK. University station would also be a proposed interchange station with South Island Line (West section).

  2) South Island Line (East section)

  This is a new medium-capacity system to connect the Southern District with the CBD. It starts from Admiralty to South Horizons, a private housing estate on Ap Lei Chau with intermediate stations at Ocean Park, Wong Chuk Hang and Lei Tung. The line aims to relieve the traffic congestion of Aberdeen tunnel, and to promote tourism to the Southern District.

  It has been rumored that the system would run rubber-tyre trains but MTR has not decided the type of train yet. The station length would be shorter than conventional systems in MTR. The new line has been gazetted and would start construction in 2011. The new line would open in 2015.

  3) Express Rail Link

  This is part of the China's high speed railway network and one of the sections of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high speed rail link. The Hong Kong section of the link consists of a new terminus station at West Kowloon, which is located in between Kowloon and Austin stations. The terminus would serve trains with speed up to 350km/h, and they run through a direct tunnel to Shenzhen without any intermediate station in Hong Kong. It is proposed that short-haul "shuttle trains" would be run between Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and long-haul trains to major cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai.

  The line has also been gazetted and construction starts later this year. The link is expected to open in 2015, which is about 4-5 years later than the mainland section of the line.

  4) Shatin to Central Link

  This proposed rail line is part of a line dated back to the very first proposal of the Hong Kong mass transport system in 1960s. There are 2 parts for this line:

  - the connection of West Rail Line and Ma On Shan Line through Eastern Kowloon (a.k.a. East Kowloon Line in 1960s). When this happens in 2015, trains will run from the eastern side of Wu Kai Sha to the western side of Tuen Mun as a single line. This is tentatively called the "East-West Corridor". The stations (from north to south) from Tai Wai are Hin Keng, Diamond Hill (change with Kwun Tong Line), Kai Tak, To Kwa Wan, Ma Tau Wai, Ho Man Tin (change with Kwun Tong Line) and back to Hung Hom.

  - the extension of East Rail Line across the harbour to Admiralty. Starting from Hung Hom, there is an intermediate station called Exhibition near the HK Convention and Exhibition Center. This is also a proposed interchange station with North Island Line. The line terminates at Admiralty and interchange with Tsuen Wan Line, Island Line and South Island Line (East section). MTR still plans to extend the line one stop to Central South, but the build of this station depends on the re-development of Central Government Offices just above the planned station site. The whole cross-harbour section is tentatively called "North-South Corridor". This section is planned to complete in 2019.

  MTR hopes that this line can be gazetted towards the end of this year, and construction starts in late 2010.

  5) Kwun Tong Line Extension

  This is a eastward extension of Kwun Tong Line from Yau Ma Tei to Whampoa. One intermediate station at Ho Man Tin will be built for interchange with the Shatin to Central Link. Whampoa would have one platform only because of the physical constraints in the Whampoa Garden area, so half of the trains in peak hours would terminate at Ho Man Tin instead. This would also be completed in time with the "East-West Corridor" in 2015.