After hours maintenance on the MTR

When darkness falls and the last train for the night returns to the depot, maintenance work on Hong Kong’s MTR starts. This series of television commercials from the MTR showcases this important work.

Looking over each train from top to bottom is critical:

As is inspecting the tracks they run upon.

As you might expect, these important tasks aren’t visible to the average commuter, so these videos were a nice find.


I’ve written about the MTR fleet of maintenance trains before.

Works train shunting around Kowloon Bay depot

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hong Kong transport footage from the 1990s

The other week on YouTube I stumbled upon a great collection of Hong Kong transport footage, recorded back in 1993/94 and uploaded by a user going by the name of ‘kamepo‘.

We start by looking out the right hand side window of a plane arriving into the former Kai Tak Airport, followed by the trip on the transfer bus back to the terminal.

Next, a few short clips through the streets of Kowloon on a bus trip between the airport to Nathan Road.

The Star Ferry by night as well as day.

Trundling around the Hong Kong Tramways.

A short trip around the MTR network.

And finally, a departure from Kai Tak and the view over Hong Kong Island.

A great collection of footage from a time that is little documented.

More videos

Riding the Kowloon Canton Railway in 1993 – another YouTube video from ‘kamepo’ which I have written about previously.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time-scale maps of the Hong Kong MTR

If you haven’t seen a ‘time-scale’ map of a transit system before, they are an interesting concept – instead of displaying every line and station in a way that makes it each to navigate from point A to point B, they allow you to compare how long it takes you to reach point A from points X, Y and Z.

Over on Reddit, there are two different versions shared to /r/HongKong – both the creation of a Redditor by the name of carpiediem.

The first diagram looks like a tree, with each MTR line radiating out from Central station on Hong Kong Island, with the distance between Central and every station indicating the travel time required to reach it.

’Tree’ format time-scaled MTR network map by ’carpiediem’

The second version illustrates the same data, but with the lines running parallel to each other, instead of branching.

’Line’ format time-scaled MTR network map by ’carpiediem’

Both diagrams plot the same data, with the journey time data for each station having been pulled from the MTR website.

Some points regarding the diagrams:

  • Taking a counterintitive route can sometimes be faster than the single train alternative
  • Lai King is incredibly fast to reach via the Tung Chung line
  • Heading underground to Tsim Sha Tsui East station takes forever/li>
  • The same applies for the walkway to Hong Kong station
  • Lohas Park is one very slow stop, thanks to the irregular shuttle service
  • The single stop to Disneyland also takes a lot of time
  • Mong Kok is an inner city station that is surprisingly difficult to reach from Central
  • Lok Ma Chau is the longest journey from Central
  • The ex-KCR East Rail and West Rail lines are very fast given the distance travelled
  • Changing to the Ma On Shan line loses a lot of time

And a final note – the above time-scale diagrams only apply to journeys starting or ending at Central station. In order to compare travel times from any other station, a completely different map will need to be drawn for each and every one. This is due to the Hong Kong MTR network forming a complex mesh, which means calculating the fastest route from point A to points X, Y and Z isn’t a process that can be automated easily.


The first place I saw time-scale network map concept was the Boston T-Time diagram – it was created back in 2012 by Stone Brown Design.

A related style of diagram that links travel time to geography is a isochrone map – “a line drawn on a map connecting points at which something occurs or arrives at the same time”.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding the Hong Kong MTR in 1993

Here is another YouTube find – this time footage of the Mass Transit Railway during 1993-1994, filmed by the same person behind the KCR ride to Lu Wu.

A quick synopsis:

  • 0:01 – original-condition entrance staircase to Tsim Sha Tsui station
  • 0:03 – single journey ticket machines
  • 0:09 – turnstiles without Octopus card capability
  • 0:13 – original condition Metro Cammell EMU arrives into the platform at Tsim Sha Tsui, with no screen doors
  • 0:34 – passengers empty out of the train
  • 0:38 – onboard the train
  • 0:50 – door closing chimes
  • 1:08 – ‘Metro Cammell England’ brand on the door treads
  • 1:15 – inside an almost empty train
  • 1:22 – train departs Central station
  • 2:02 – riding the escalators
  • 2:14 – train arrives at Central station
  • 2:45 – Sheung Wan station with a departing train
  • 3:00 – changing platforms at Quarry Bay station
  • 3:12 – riding a train towards North Point
  • 3:28 – departing Wan Chai
  • 4:00 – single journey ticket machines
  • 4:02 – station concourse at Admiralty
  • 4:08 – Lippo Centre at Admiralty and passing trams
Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hong Kong memes and the MTR at Admiralty

The other day I found this meme making fun of crowded trains on the MTR, and thought the photo looked a bit familiar.

Hong Kong meme - MTR train after Admiralty station

(found on the ‘Hong Kong Memes’ Facebook page, but I’m unsure as to the original source)

Turns out it wasn’t a case of déjà vu – the photo of the empty train was one I took on my 2010 trip to Hong Kong.

An almost empty train on Hong Kong's MTR?

As to the story behind the meme, the joke referrers to MTR Island Line. As trains head west along the line through Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, more and more passengers board until they reach a crush load. At Admiralty the train then empties out again, as hundreds of passengers walk across the platform for a Tsuen Wan Line train under Victoria Harbour.

In they come

At least the queues to board the next train are orderly.

Orderly queueing at Admiralty station

The South China Morning Post wrote about congestion at Admiralty back in early 2014.

100 million tourists by 2023 prediction sparks fears the MTR will not cope
Stuart Lau and Ada Lee
24 January, 2014

It can be a worker’s hardest job of the day – squeezing into an MTR train during peak hours.

Some see four full trains go by before finally being able to struggle onto the fifth one at Admiralty station, while as many as 1,000 other people continue to line the platform, hoping for better luck with the next train.

“The long queues have been around for so many years without much improvement. It would be magic if you could get on the train easily at 6.30pm,” said Raven Wong Kar-yin, 40, an insurance worker waiting for a Tsuen Wan-bound train at Admiralty at that time last Thursday.

Observations showed that on a normal weekday evening, an average of 20 to 50 people queued outside each of the doors on Tsuen Wan-bound trains at Admiralty station, one of the most heavily used routes for cross-harbour commuters, between 6pm and 7pm.

That works out to more than 1,000 people at a time waiting for each of the trains that come every 106 seconds or so at one of the busiest interchange stations.

An MTR official with knowledge of the Island Line’s operation said the situation at Admiralty was “under control”, adding that queues were up to twice as long before station improvement work. But he admitted there had been an “obvious increase” in passengers in recent years.

Occupancy on the Island line was about 70 per cent. Veteran transport analyst Dr Hung Wing-tat said the 70 per cent occupancy rate could mean some stations were close to or had already exceeded their capacities, as some stations were less crowded than others.

The rest of the article is a whinge about tourists from Mainland China – a favourite hobby horse for Hong Kong locals, and a story for another day.


In the comments one railfan pointed out that the ‘full’ train was a different model to the ’empty’ one.

After that the train change itself from a M-Train to a K-Train ? lol

Another pointed out that K-Train stock doesn’t run on the Island Line.

不過……乜K-Train會經過 Admiralty 㗎咩?

To which one reply was.

To those arguing between K-Train and M-Train you have no sense of humour and that’s not funny

It is a common complaint from railfans around the world.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment