KCR 60 arrives at the Hong Kong Railway Museum

2023 saw a new arrival to the Hong Kong Railway Museum – retired ex-Kowloon Canton Railway EMD diesel locomotive #60 “Peter Quick”.

Photo via Sing Tao Daily

The retired EMD diesel locomotive was transferred to the Lo Wu locomotive running shed in March 2022 for restoration, where it received a repaint into the red, blue and grey livery it wore when last in revenue service with the MTR Corporation.

The convoy departed Lo Wu on September 20 at 1am, travelling to Tai Po via Fanling Road and Tai Wo Road in Tai Po, arriving on Kwong Fu Road an hour later. A second prime mover was then attached to the other end of the low loader, to assist moving the heavy locomotive up the steep ramp into the railway museum itself.

The locomotive was reunited with it’s bogie on September 22.

Hong Kong Railway Museum photo

And was officially handed over from the MTR Corporation to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department on October 3, when it was opened for public viewing.

Further reading

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

MTR’s rolling billboard – the ‘Spectacular Mobile Showcase’

Back in 2005 the MTR unveiled an unusual train to their network – the ‘Spectacular Mobile Showcase’.

MTR photo

Their media release described it as:

Innovative 3D advertising to liven up MTR tracks
2 October 2005

It’s a train. It’s an ad. It’s an advertising train.

Leading the way in creating innovative new advertising formats, the MTR Corporation is introducing the Spectacular Mobile Showcase as the latest way to advertise in the extensive MTR’s system.

This innovative advertising medium comprises a locomotive-driven, 3-dimensional display, which will pass through stations in between normal scheduled passenger train services. The Corporation is inviting interested advertisers to use this new advertising format to deliver fun and eye-catching messages to passengers waiting at platforms. The equipment used will be specialised engineering trains, which would normally be idle during the network’s operating hours.

“With 2.5 million passengers a day, the MTR system has always been a popular and effective platform for advertisers to put across their messages. We believe advertisers will be able to attract substantial interest in their products or services through this brand new medium. It will also add enjoyment to our passengers’ journeys,” said Mr Adi Lau, General Manager – Marketing and Station Business. “There are infinite possibilities with the Spectacular Mobile Showcase. The 3-dimensional display case is big enough even if advertisers wish to put a new car on show,” added Mr Lau.

But it appears that advertisers weren’t particular interested in the new media platform – the first use of the ‘Spectacular Mobile Showcase’ appears to be the MTR Corporation, who hired artist Wong Tin Yan to transform it into a mobile art gallery in March 2006.

Photo by Wong Tin Yan

Which ran around the network slowly during non-peak hours for three weeks, filled with animal sculptures created from scrap wood.

Photo by Wong Tin Yan

The first commercial advertiser to use the platform was Sony Ericsson, in a campaign by Mediaedge:CIA launched in June 2006.

JCDecaux photo

Their accompanying press release going on to say.

MTR Launches “Spectacular Mobile Showcase”
The first 3D mobile advertising running on tracks
13 June 2006

MTR Corporation today announced the official launch of its state-of-the-art “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” featuring Sony Ericsson Walkman® Phone Series as the first commercial advertiser.

An unveiling ceremony was held at MTR Tsuen Wan Depot to mark the official commercial launch of the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase”. The officiating guests were Ms Jeny Yeung, General Manager ¡V Marketing and Station Business of MTR Corporation, Mr Tony Tai, General Manager of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Hong Kong and Mr Stephen Wong, Chief Executive Officer of JCDecaux Pearl & Dean.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Jeny Yeung said: “Leading the way in all aspects of our business to better serve the Hong Kong community, the traveling public and our customers have always been the most important mission of MTR Corporation. We are very proud to be the first train operator to introduce the first 3D mobile advertising showcase which we believe will be the most exciting advertising format ever launched in Hong Kong. The transparent display compartment is driven by locomotives to run between passenger train services during non-peak hours along the MTR Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong and Island Lines starting from today. We hope passengers will enjoy the interesting and unique displays when the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” passes through MTR platforms.” While making MTR journeys more fun and exciting, advertisers will be able to attract substantial interest in their products or services through this innovative new medium.

Mr Tony Tai said: “As one of the world’s leading mobile communications companies, we are constantly exploring the most unique and first-of-a-kind communication and advertising formats to excite our customers. MTR’s “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” offers the ideal concept and format in meeting the advertising needs of our popular Walkman® Phone Series. Its flexibility to display large-sized 3-dimenational products, moving and reaching out to a large target audience are the key elements of the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” that prompted our decision to use this brand new medium.”

The launch of the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” is a breakthrough in advertising within the MTR system as it opens up an infinite number of possibilities and ideas, and its effectiveness is expected to be one of the highest among existing media.

“Following a trial run of the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” in March, MTR Corporation and JCDecaux Pearl & Dean are both confident that this innovative new medium will become one of highest reach among MTR advertising formats. The strong visual impact and unlimited execution of advertisers’ messages will certainly help achieve best top-of-mind recalls from viewers, thus further enhancing the success of our customers’ creative campaigns,” said Mr Stephen Wong at the ceremony.

In celebrating the debut of the “Spectacular Mobile Showcase” featuring Sony Ericsson Walkman® Phone Series, an interactive game will be launched for MTR passengers. Winners of the game will receive Sony Ericsson Walkman® Phones.

But next advertising campaign to use the train was another in-house one – this time JCDecaux Pearl & Dean using it to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR.

Photo by David Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Their media release by JCDecaux Pearl & Dean similarly breathless about the possibilities of the advertising platform.

“MTR Spectacular Mobile Showcase” for the Celebration of the HKSAR 10th Anniversary” Kick-off Ceremony
June 25, 2007

The “MTR Spectacular Mobile Showcase” for the Celebration of the HKSAR 10th Anniversary Kick-off Ceremony, organized by JCDecaux Pearl & Dean, took place today (June 25) at the MTR Tseung Kwan O Depot. The Spectacular Mobile Showcase features one of the key Hong Kong icons, the fantastic neon light scenery, which symbolizes the MTR advertisers and the passengers are joining together for a brighter future. This Spectacular Mobile Showcase will be traveling throughout the MTR Island Line from tomorrow (June 26) to July 22 to celebrate the HKSAR 10 th anniversary with MTR passengers.

Today attending guests included: Jeny Yeung, General Manager – Marketing and Station Business of MTR Corporation, Stephen Wong, CEO, Greater China of JCDecaux Pearl & Dean Ltd., Jessie Cheng, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications of Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd., Robert Lau Ka Ho, Corporate Financial Controller of Hong Kong Ajisen Food Co. Ltd. & Ms. Melanie Leung, Director of A-Fontane Group.

In the kick-off ceremony today, Jeny Yeung, General Manager – Marketing and Station Business of MTR Corporation expressed,

“During the special occasion of the HKSAR 10th Anniversary, the Corporation is pleased to share the success stories in Hong Kong in the past 10 years with MTR passengers through this campaign. In the future, the Corporation will continue to provide Hong Kong with a world-class railway service and work closely with JCDecaux Pearl & Dean to make MTR journeys more enjoyable by introducing more advertising formats”.

This video uploaded in August 2008 was filmed from the cab of a Brush Traction battery electric locomotive used to move the train.

But beyond these campaigns, it appears that the ‘Spectacular Mobile Showcase’ train saw little use.

Possibly the high cost discouraged possible clients.

Spectacular Mobile Showcase
Package Entitlements

(1) 1 x Spectacular Mobile Showcase for 6 weeks
(2) 2 x Trackside 12-sheet Frequency Networks for 3 weeks

Gross Rate/ Package

Minimum Booking Period:
6 weeks


The ‘Spectacular Mobile Showcase’ remained listed as an option in the JCDecaux advertising media kit until 2010, when it was removed.

Footnote: other advertising trains

Advertising liveries on standard MTR trains happen from time to time – this was “Smiley World” priority seat livery was a MTR promotion back in 2010.

Tiu Keng Leng bound train emerges from the tunnel at Kowloon Bay

Further reading

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

A short history of the KTT

Today, a short history of the recently retired ‘KTT’ train once used on the MTR Intercity Through Train service.

MTR operated 'KTT' double deck train northbound outside Sha Tin

In the 1990s patronage on the cross-border train service between Hong Kong and China was growing, thanks to the introduction of modern trains supplied by the China Railway, and the upcoming electrification of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen railway.

And so in December 1995 the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation signed a $309 million contract to acquire a new double deck express train, with a top speed of 160 km/h. Comprising two Re 460 double ended electric locomotives built by SLM / ABB of Switzerland, and twelve passenger carriages from Kinki Sharyo / ITOCHU Corporation of Japan, Australian rollingstock manufacturer United Goninan was also involved in the bid, hence this artists impression of the train.

Artists impression by Chris Barrett

The new locomotives were based on the existing SBB Re 460 electric locomotives already in operation across Europe, but the KCR locomotives were 196mm longer at 18,696 mm, due to them being equipped with automatic couplings instead of screw couplings.

Initial plans were to use the locomotives on freight services by night when passenger trains were not operating, as well as the acquisition of further locomotives and carriage sets, but neither plan eventuated.

On 10 April 1997 the two completed locomotives left the factory in Zurich-Oerlikon, and were towed to Basel by an SBB Re 4/4 II and an SBB Ae 6/6. Due to the automatic couplers being incompatible with the couplers used on SBB locomotives, they were treated as unbraked vehicles, with the transfer unable to exceed 80 km/h.

The locomotives were loaded onto a container ship at the port of Birsfelden, moving down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there they were transported on a seagoing vessel through the Nieuwe Waterweg and then by sea to Hong Kong.

The ship arrived in Hong Kong on 11 May 1997, but due to the electrification of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway not been completed, the trains were stored at the KCR Ho Tung Lau Depot.

It was then decided to use the new train to operate services on the East Rail Line between Hung Hom and Lo Wu. Commencing 24 January 1998, at 10:00 am every day an express northbound service would leave Hung Hom for Lo Wu, returning at 11:20 am stopping all stations.

Electrification of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway was eventually completed on 28 May 1998, and the temporary service was withdrawn from 1 June.

Finally, on 28 August 1998 the new KTT train officially entered service on the Hong Kong to Guangzhou service.

Southbound KTT passes waiting passengers at Kowloon Tong stationSoundbound KTT passes waiting passengers at Kowloon Tong station

20 years of reliable service followed, until September 2018 when the KTT was usurped by a new upstart – the Express Rail Link connecting Hong Kong to the mainland China high speed rail network.

Photo by Philip-Fong/AFP

But despite the new faster service, the MTR Intercity Through Train continued to run.

But it was the COVID-19 pandemic that finally finished the KTT train in January 2020, when the border was closed between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Photo via Trainnets.com

The KTT service was paused, until January 2023 when it was finally confirmed – cross border trains via the Express Rail Link would restart, but the MTR Intercity Through Train service was no more.

Footnote: on liveries

Both KTT locomotives are double ended, but are uniquely numbered – TLN 001 (Through train Locomotive North) and TLS 002 (Through train Locomotive South). The red painted cab normally faces away from the carriages, however the ‘white head’ cab can occasional be seen leading a train, like during my visit in 2016.

Northbound KTT approaches Mong Kong East station, 'white head' locomotive in the lead

In April 2010 the KTT was received a special blue livery to promote the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games. These decals were removed in February 2011.

Lead locomotive of the KTT crosses Tai Po Kau

Footnote: in model form

A number of years ago Japanese model railway company Kato released a limited edition KTT train model in N scale, set ‘A’ and ‘B’ each comprising a Re 460 electirc locomotive and four carriages.

They’re a beautiful looking model, like anything Kato makes.

But with only 2000 sets produced, they’re rare as hens teeth – I paid through the nose for just this single locomotive when it came up on eBay a few years ago.

Kato KCR KTT electric locomotive

Footnote: other Re 460 locomotive derivatives

Derivatives of the Re 460 locomotive were also built for the BLS Lötschbergbahn as the ‘Re 465‘, the Norwegian State Railways as the ‘El 18‘ and the Finnish State Railway ‘Sr2‘.


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

Farewell to the MTR Intercity Through Train service

After being paused in January 2020 when the border was closed between Hong Kong and Mainland China, in January 2023 it was finally confirmed – the MTR Intercity Through Train service is no more.

MTR operated 'KTT' double deck train northbound outside Sha Tin

Rumours started swirling in 2022 about cancellation of the service.

Since the opening of the Hong Kong section of the XRL, the number of through train passengers has dropped. The government revealed in early 2019 that the number of through train passengers has dropped by about 30% year-on-year.

The MTR Corporation’s interim results that year also stated that through train revenue fell by 30% year-on-year. At that time, the Transport and Housing Bureau had revealed that it would adjust or reduce through train services.

“HK01” combines multiple different sources, all of which indicate that the MTR will disband the passenger transport department responsible for operating intercity through trains in the short term. According to sources, some employees have been transferred to other departments of MTR. It is believed that the through train operation department will hold a meeting with the company to discuss the direction. It is expected that there is a high chance of disbandment. However, sources indicate that the relevant employees will not be laid off and can choose to be transferred to other departments to continue working.

The news also indicates that MTR has recently suspended routine inspections, repairs and other maintenance of double-decker Kowloon-Canton Express trains. Some sources even described the train itself as “severely exhausted” and believed that it was close to being “retired”. They believed that the mainland’s railway network is becoming increasingly perfect and the historical mission of intercity through trains has been completed.

When asked by “HK01”, DAB Legislative Council member Liu Guoxun also said that he had heard that the through train service would be terminated. He agreed that through trains can indeed be gradually reduced, especially if the East Rail Line is switched to nine-car trains to cross the harbour, which will free up the time when through trains share the track, allowing the East Rail Line to increase its frequency.

The end announced in January 2023 alongside the resumption of services on the high-speed link to mainland China.

Hong Kong’s historic intercity through-train service is effectively cancelled, lawmakers have said, as the city’s rail operator announced the route suspension would continue despite a high-speed link to mainland China resuming on Sunday.

Legislator Michael Tien Puk-sun, former chairman of the now defunct Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, on Thursday said through-train operations were unlikely to continue given Guangzhou East station was now linked to Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

“The intercity through-train service will no longer be operated, it is a part of history,” he said, adding the line was effectively cancelled.

Fellow lawmaker Gary Zhang Xinyu, an engineer who served as operations manager at the MTR Corporation, agreed with Tien and said staff for the service had been transferred to other posts.

Faster links than the more than 110-year-old route were now available for the same ticket price with the addition of the high-speed rail terminating at West Kowloon, he explained.

“There is actually no special reason for both routes to still be operating at the same time,” Zhang said.

The legislator’s remarks followed announcements by the government and the MTR Corp that the high-speed rail service at West Kowloon station would resume on Sunday after it was suspended at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in January 2020.

It covers direct travel to Shenzhen and Guangzhou, as well as the Guangzhou East station, a previous stopping point for the through-train service. New stops are also available at Dongguan and Dongguan South.

Jeny Yeung Mei-chun, the MTR Corp’s transport services director for Hong Kong, said the decision behind the ongoing suspension was based on service demand, resource allocation and the new addition to the high-speed rail link.

“In the short term, we don’t have plans to resume the intercity through-train service, and we will also keep close contact with the relevant departments,” she said.

“As now we have the Guangzhou East station, which is exactly where the intercity service has been serving, we believe passengers have an even better choice with a shorter journey time and where you can have immigration and every process in the same place.”

Lawmaker Zhang said Hong Kong and mainland authorities would discuss the matter further before the service was officially cancelled, with the next question being what to do with the now vacant passenger trains.

“I think the main thing that needs to be dealt with is the trains since they were built for the route and cannot be used elsewhere,” he said. “So how do they deal with the trains? Whether they should be sold or scrapped? I guess they will have to consider this.”

In recent years the MTR Corporation has scrapped the diesel-electric locomotives once used on their cross-border freight service – will the KTT set be next to go?

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

35th anniversary of the MTR Light Rail

September 2023 marks the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Light Rail system in the New Territories, with the MTR Corporation marking the occasion with a ‘retro livery’ light rail vehicle, and a public open day at the Light Rail depot.

MTR photo

Phase I LRV 1066 was repainted into the original orange and white KCR Light Rail livery, which it wore when it first started service, being unveiled to the public at Siu Hong Stop on 20 August 2023.

MTR photo

Local media also covering the event:

A large crowd was seen in Tuen Mun on Sunday as a retro-themed Light Rail train debuted and greeted passengers under a series of 35th-anniversary celebratory activities.

Light Rail has been serving the Northwest New Territories districts as a major mode of transport for over three decades. To celebrate its anniversary, the MTR Corporation put two retro-themed Light Rail Vehicles into service.

The train’s livery relives the classic orange and white color combination with orange seats, bringing back memories of the original Phase 1 Light Rail Vehicles when they started service in 1988.

One of them was showcased at Tuen Mun Light Rail Depot Stop and Siu Hong Station on Sunday, attracting many rail fans to catch a glimpse.

A rail fanatic surnamed Tse, who was emigrating soon, came to watch the unveiling of the light rail with friends. He said the retro vehicle was relatively close to the original one, except for minor details such as the paint, handles, writing, etc.

Wong, who came here with his family of three, said he had lived in Sheung Shui since he was young but had never seen the light rail train in orange color.

The first retro-themed light rail vehicle will start running on Route 610 on Monday, and the other one will be ready for service next month.

The open day at the Light Rail depot was held on 17 September, and saw all five models of light rail vehicle on display to the public.

Photo by The Standard

Further viewing

A tour of ‘retro livery’ Phase I LRV 1066 by SF’s Rail Depot:

And joined by second retro liveried unit Phase I LRV 1001.

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