KCRC television commercial stylising track maintenance

Continuing my theme of railway related Hong Kong television commercials found on YouTube, here is a Kowloon–Canton Railway Corporation commercial from 1989 that stylises track maintenance.

The use of a dark backdrop, dramatic lighting, and a synthesiser soundtrack was a popular look for television commercials during the 1980s.

This Australian television commercial for the State Rail Authority of New South Wales is another example from the same period.

Similar stylistic cues can also been seen in this advertisement from another Australian rail operator – V/Line.

This advertisement for Queensland Rail.

As can the 1988 British television commercial “Britain’s Railway”.


Much has been written about the “Britain’s Railway” commercial – the following is from Wikipedia:

In 1988 Hugh Hudson directed a 2½-minute advert for British Rail, a parody of the Post Office Film Unit’s 25-minute documentary, Night Mail, made in 1936. Poet W. H. Auden had written verse specifically to fit the original 1936 film’s footage, which showed the enormous scale of BR’s daily operation and the structure of the ‘sectorised’ business. The opening sequence of Hudson’s British Rail advert features the northbound Travelling Post Office with Auden’s original verse, narrated by Sir Tom Courtenay.

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

All aboard the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Walt Disney was known for his love of trains, which resulted in the ‘Disneyland Railroad’ being a feature of many Disney theme parks around the world – and Hong Kong Disneyland isn’t any different.

A sea of black hair approaching Hong Kong Disneyland

The park is encircled by the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad, with the round trip taking around 20 minutes, with two stations along the way – Main Street, U.S.A. and Fantasyland.

Locomotive #1 'Walter E. Disney' on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Three locomotives are available for service on the railroad.

  • #1 Walter E. Disney. Named after Walt Disney, President from 1923 to 1966.
  • #2 Roy O. Disney. Named after Roy O. Disney, President from 1966 to 1971.
  • #3 Frank G. Wells. Named after Frank Wells, President from 1984 to 1994.

Locomotive #1 'Walter E. Disney' on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Each locomotive was built by the British firm of Severn Lamb, and are actually diesel hydraulic units – the propulsion unit lives in the tender, with a steam generator and sound recordings providing the look and feel of a real steam locomotive.

Locomotive #1 'Walter E. Disney' on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Two five car trains are available for service on the railroad – one called ‘Walt’ and the other named ‘Disney’.

Loading the carriages at Main Street station on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

To provide a better view of the Disneyland park and hide the less scenic ‘backlot’ areas, the seats inside each carriage face sideways.

Departing Main Street station on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

At the rear of the train, a cast member stands guard.

Train departs Main Street station on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

The track is 3 ft (914 mm) gauge, and has steel rail on timber sleepers.

Timber sleepered track on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Rail joints use traditional fishplates, giving the classic ‘clicky clack’ rhythm as the train heads down the track.

Timber sleepered track on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Trains are kept separated by an automatic block signaling system, with colour light signals dividing the track up into a number of sections, each of which can only be occupied by one train at a time.

Colour light signals on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Due to the railroad forming a loop around the park, a number of bridges allow park guests to pass beneath the tracks.

Entrance to It's a Small World, the Disneyland Railroad crosses the bridge in the foreground

But there is one level crossing on the route, fitted with flashing lights and boom barriers.

Railroad level crossing on the Hong Kong Disneyland backlot

Linking Main Street to the Disneyland backlot, the crossing is only open to cast members and allows tall parade floats to make their way into the park.

Staff only level crossing on the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad

Also located backstage is the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad depot – it consists of a two road concrete block engine shed, linked to the main track loop by a trailing set of points.

Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad depot and stub siding

This track layout requires trains to reverse back into the depot at the end of each running day.


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

Kai Tak Airport arrival in 1998

My first visit to Hong Kong was in February 1998 – I missed out on seeing the territory while it was still a British colony, but I was luck enough to fly into the soon to be closed Kai Tai Airport. Here is a YouTube video showing the hair raising approach to the airport.

Kai Tak Airport closed in July 1998, replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok – a far less exciting final approach.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Riding the KCR to the Hong Kong countryside

Hong Kong is famous for being an urban jungle, but a little known fact is that the countryside is only a short train ride away.

Passing the lake at Tai Po Kau

This 1988 television commercial from the Kowloon-Canton Railway promoted this fact.

In the words of their jingle:

What a different the train makes to the way we all live.
Taking people to places they always wanted to go.
Beautify scenery, greenery, the countryside is waiting for you.
So a wonderful difference KCR makes to you.

In the years since, the role of the KCR East Rail line has changed – the predominant traffic is now commuters from the New Territories bound for their jobs in urban Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Southbound EMU approaches Sha Tin


A lightly different tack can be seen in the TV commercial from the same period – promoting the for the Kowloon-Canton Railway was a way for residents of the New Territories to head into the ‘big city’ for shopping and eating out.

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

Working late in Hong Kong

On my last visit to Hong Kong I paid a visit to the Sky100 observation deck atop the International Commerce Centre, but I noticed one thing beside the view – how long officer workers are chained to their desks.

Working late on the 99th floor of the  International Commerce Centre

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:

The average weekly working hours of full-time employees in Hong Kong is 49 hours. According to the Price and Earnings Report 2012 conducted by UBS, while the global average were 1,915 hours per year, the average working hours in Hong Kong is 2,296 hours per year, which ranked the fifth longest yearly working hours among 72 countries under study.

While the view from the top is nice.

Looking out from the Sky100 observation deck

But does it make up for being stuck at work until after the sun goes down?

Sun sets to the west of Hong Kong Island

Posted in Everyday Life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment