Bridging a taxiway at Hong Kong Airport

In 2017 the Hong Kong Airport Authority announced an interesting project – a bridge so tall that double decker A380 ‘super jumbo’ jets could pass under.

The South China Morning Post had this to say on the proposal.

Boarding a bus to catch a plane at Hong Kong International Airport could soon be a thing of the past with plans afoot to build a bridge across the airfield.

Currently, any passengers travelling on flights from an isolated terminal called the North Satellite Concourse, must be ferried to or from the main airport building by a shuttle bus.

The Airport Authority has invited bids to build a structure linking the two buildings. The tender contract was expected to be issued in the third quarter of 2017 and construction would take at least two years.

Airlines have welcomed the proposal, saying it would further improve the passenger experience at one of the world’s most highly rated airports.

Few details have been made public, though the bridge could cost at least HK$2 billion, based on previous creations and factoring inflation and higher construction costs locally.

With the Airport Technology website providing a few extra details.

Known as Sky Bridge, the new 28m-high and 200m-long footbridge will help reduce travelling time for the passengers and the need for using shuttle buses, while providing space for the accommodation of the largest A380 flights.

The current state

The North Satellite Concourse was completed in 2009 and marked the first major expansion of gate capacity at Hong Kong International Airport.

To ensure the same level of service for the growing number of passengers flying on smaller aircraft, the Airport Authority has invested over HK$1 billion in the construction of a new North Satellite Concourse (NSC). The new concourse, which will be soft-opened on 17 December, will ensure that Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) continues to meet its performance pledge of embarking and disembarking more than 90% of its passengers by air bridges.The NSC is designed to serve more than five million passengers a year at the initial stage.

Situated to the north of the Terminal 1 (T1), the NSC is a two-storey facility equipped with 10 frontal stands (gate numbers: 501 to 510) for narrow-bodied aircraft. Passengers using the new concourse depart as normal, completing their check-in, immigration and security procedures in either T1 or T2 before proceeding to a designated area at T1 to board a shuttle bus for the concourse. Waiting area of the concourse houses 10 retail and two catering outlets. Departing passengers may also take the shuttle to T1 at any time. Shuttle buses to and from the NSC will run every four minutes.

Passengers deplaning from an arriving flight at the facility will take a shuttle bus to T1 to clear customs and immigration, while transfer passengers will board a shuttle for their connecting flight at T1 or go to the NSC’s transfer area if their next flight departs from the same concourse.

The North Satellite Concourse is the standalone building visible in this overhead view of the airport.

Looking down on the southern remote stands at Hong Kong International Airport

It is mainly used by smaller single aisle jets that carry 100-200 passengers each.

Looking past the North Satellite Concourse to the main concourse and air traffic control tower

Surrounded on all sides by taxiways.

Looking across to the North Satellite Concourse

Shuttle buses are used to move passengers to and from the main terminal building.

Transfer bus linking the North Satellite Concourse to the main terminal

The buses departing from stations on the ground floor of each terminal.

Transfer bus station at the North Satellite Concourse at Hong Kong Airport

And a recent project

In 2016 the Midfield Concourse opened – adding 20 additional gates to Hong Kong International Airport.

It is another terminal building isolated from the rest of the airport, this time located between the aircraft maintenance hangers and the air traffic control tower.

Midfield Concourse at Hong Kong International Airport now open for use

But access for air travellers is much easier – the existing airport people mover system was extended west to serve the new terminal.

Underground guideway between Terminal 1 and the Midfield Concourse

So why isn’t the North Satellite Concourse part of the same system?

I’m guessing two reasons – building a tunnel beneath an operating taxiway is complex, and a location of the terminal means a northward stub would need to be operated as a branch line from the rest of the system.

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Hong Kong transport by the brush of Kong Kai Ming

Back in 2016 something at Hong Kong International Airport caught my eye – a wall covered with incredibly detailed sketches of Hong Kong streets, with transport front and centre.

Artwork by Kong Kai Ming on display

Buses at Aberdeen.

A road tunnel at To Kwa Wan.

A KCR train crosses over Argyle Street in Mong Kok.

The Canton Road overpass in Yau Ma Tei.

The MTR station at Kwun Tong.

And the former tram depot at Wan Chai.

The sketches were the work of Hong Kong artist Kong Kai Ming.

Artwork by Kong Kai Ming on display

And were the subject of a 2016 Hong Kong stamp issue titled “Hong Kong Museums Collection – Pencil Drawings by Mr. Kong Kai-ming“.

The Hongkong Post website features a short biography of Kong Kai-ming.

Mr. Kong Kai-ming, born in 1932, is a famous first-generation artist born and raised in Hong Kong. Devoted to drawing, painting and teaching of art techniques, Mr. Kong has made a profound contribution to local art and art education. Having published more than 60 volumes of art books over the past 60-odd years, he has gained widespread recognition for his accomplishments in the development of art.

Mr. Kong has had a passion for art since his childhood. Unfortunately, amid the economic downturn at the time, he had to become the breadwinner of the family after completing his junior secondary studies. Despite that, he spared time to teach himself painting, practise art techniques painstakingly, and study art theory. Particularly skilful at portrait and landscape sketching, Mr. Kong is conversant with a wide range of mediums, such as fountain pen and pencil sketching, watercolour, oil paint and printmaking. Mr. Kong has captured numerous streetscapes, pieces of architecture and means of transport in Hong Kong in the finest detail. His compositions are not only works of art, but also records showing what Hong Kong looked like in the past.

This is the fourth set of special stamps in the “Hong Kong Museums Collection” series issued by Hongkong Post. With “Pencil Drawings by Mr. Kong Kai-ming” as the theme, the set showcases seven pencil drawings by Mr. Kong during the 1980s and 1990s, all from the collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Intaglio printing is used to highlight the meticulous detail of the original work.

If only I could get a larger version of these prints for my wall at home.

Further reading

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Scale models of Kai Tak Airport

Unfortunately for aviation enthusiasts Kai Tak Airport no longer exists, but it does live on in model form.


Photo via ‘The Diecast Flyer’

Donald Gardner from ‘The Diecast Flyer’ has the full story on the model.

Hu Chow has created one of the most impressive renditions of an airport diorama with his design and construction of a model Kai Tak Airport. The 1/400 airport layout takes us back to 1988, a busy time for the once bustling Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. In this Airport Spotlight Series we chat with Hu about his inspiration and motivation for creating his model airport diorama.

More than just place to park model planes on, the diorama also includes the terminal building, car park, and adjoining landside buildings.


Photo via ‘The Diecast Flyer’

Another model of Kai Tak Airport was once on display at ‘WingsWorld Museum‘ in San Po Kong.


Photo via airchive.com

Approximately 9 metres by 3 metres in size, the model was completed in the late 1990s and was apparently owned by Wilson Yeung of Airliners Group Ltd, then Hong Kong distributor of the Herpa range of model planes.

A number of members on the ‘wings900’ model aircraft collectors forum have also created their own scale models of Kai Tak – this model in 1:500 scale is the work of user ‘Cathay Pacific’.


Photo by wings900 user ‘Cathay Pacific’

Another 1:500 scale Kai Tak is this model by ‘miuccini’.


Photo by wings900 user ‘miuccini’

And here are two more scale models of Kai Tak – by “Charter” and “victordragon747”.

Footnote

Here is a Lego model of the replacement for Kai Tak – today’s Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Lego model of Hong Kong International Airport

You can find more Lego models of Hong Kong here – but I’m yet to find a Lego version of Kai Tak.

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Recreating Hong Kong scenes in Lego

Over the years I’ve stumbled upon a number of Hong Kong scenes recreated in Lego.

Nathan Road reproduced in Lego at the Hong Kong LEGO Store

Back in 2010 this collection of Lego scenes from the “Lego Architects – Features of Hong Kong” competition was on display at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park.

A series of Lego displays showing various Hong Kong scenes

The first scene to catch my eye was a Lego model of the Hong Kong Railway Museum.

Lego model of the Hong Kong Railway Museum

Created by Benny Chow Chung Yan, it featured a pair of KCR diesel locomotives and an array of museum visitors.

Lego model of the Hong Kong Railway Museum

Alongside was a model by Tsang Yiu Keung titled 香港魅力之都 (“The Capital of Glamour in Hong Kong”) featuring trains, trams, boats, a cable car and a roller coaster!

Lego model of Hong Kong icons

However the Lego Store located at Langham Place has an even larger Hong Kong scene – a two block section of Mong Kok.

Nathan Road reproduced in Lego at the Hong Kong LEGO Store

The footpaths are crowed with shoppers.

Nathan Road reproduced in Lego at the Hong Kong LEGO Store

As double decker buses make their way down Nathan Road.

Nathan Road reproduced in Lego at the Hong Kong LEGO Store

There is even a staircase down the MTR station on a street corner.

Nathan Road reproduced in Lego at the Hong Kong LEGO Store

The final Lego model I found was at the Regal Airport Hotel, next door to Hong Kong International Airport.

Lego model of Hong Kong International Airport

The airport is centre stage, with the New Town of Tung Chung and the mountains of Lantau Island forming the backdrop.

Lego model of Hong Kong International Airport

Further reading

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Public toilets in MTR stations

Every MTR station seems to be full of shops and other commercial services, but there is one thing that is often lacking – public toilets!

Station concourse at Tuen Mun

The reason for this goes back to the original design of the system in the 1970s.

Most MTR stations were built in the 1970s and 1980s. In view of the short travelling time and availability of public toilets in most commercial buildings or shopping arcades in the surrounding urban areas, public toilets were not a built-in feature for those MTR stations.

But the expectations of the travelling public have risen in the years since.

With continual expansion of the MTR system and taking into account feedback received from the public, the Corporation has reviewed from time to time the feasibility of providing toilet facilities at new stations for passengers.

So toilets started to be built at new stations.

In this regard, the Corporation has identified appropriate locations, after consulting the relevant Government departments, for building public toilets at street level near some of the new stations. These include toilet facilities built by the Corporation at Public Transport Interchanges at Hang Hau, Tiu Keng Leng and Tseung Kwan O stations of the Tseung Kwan O Line.

As regards the Airport Express Line, in view of the long journey for international travellers with luggage, public toilets were designed as a built-in feature at Hong Kong, Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations.

Similarly, for Disneyland Resort Line, in view of the fact that the Theme Park’s visitors would mostly be families with children, public toilets were designed as a built-in feature at both Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort stations.

In 2007 the Legislative Council requested the MTR Corporation look at the retrofitting of public toilets at railway stations. A number of technical issues were raised:

  • The current station sewage capacities were designed for low usage. Substantial modifications would be needed to meet a comparatively larger volume of foul sewage if public toilets were to be provided. For underground stations, such modifications would be even more difficult as there are only three types of possible connections between the underground station box and the ground level, namely station entrances, vent shafts and service manhole for drainage.
  • Installing sewage pipes through station entrances is not desirable due to possible unpleasant smell and appearance. There is also limited ceiling space for installing such pipes all the way leading to the vent shafts. As for service manhole and sewage pipes, modifications to increase their capacity may cause serious impact on road traffic given that these facilities are usually located beneath the surface of busy roads.
  • Toilet drains should not be located in the vicinity of the cables, particularly high voltage power supply equipment or overhead line equipment, in order to minimise the risk of their possible impact on railway operation and to avoid corrosion or electrical insulation breakdown that may lead to disruption of railway service.
  • In most underground stations, the concourse level is located above the platform level where overhead line wires are located on top of the running tracks with a lot of electrical installations at both platform ends. Hence, it is difficult to identify suitable locations for retrofitting public toilets at the concourse level of underground stations.
  • To maintain a hygienic and pleasant travelling environment, an efficient ventilation system is necessary for all railway stations. If public toilets were to be provided in the stations, a separate ventilation system from the station main ventilation system would be required.
  • For underground stations, there is little room left for building a separate ventilation system as most of the station areas are already fully occupied. The long path of the ventilation system would need to go through the busy areas filled with cables, piping and ducting before reaching the vent shaft.
  • The spatial requirement for station passenger facilities such as staircases, escalators, entry/exit gates, platform supervision booths, and customer service centres, and the requirement of adequate room for passenger flow and emergency evacuation impose substantial constraints in finding suitable locations for retrofitting toilets.

This review resulted in three decisions:

  • Retrofitting toilets in underground stations is not feasible.
  • For existing aboveground/at-grade stations, the Corporation will continue to examine the feasibility of retrofitting toilets at or in the vicinity of such stations.
  • For future new lines and extensions, the Corporation will include the provision of public toilets within stations, subject to geographical constraints.

As well as the MTR publishing a list of the nearest public toilets to each railway station.

As of 2012 ten out of 20 interchange stations in the MTR network have public toilets, with toilets retrofitted to all 20 interchange stations by 2020.

Sources

The above quotes are all from a July 2007 report by the Legislative Council Panel on Transport titled ‘Provision of Public Toilets in MTR Railway Stations‘.

Footnote

The lack of public toilets on the MTR system parallels the lack of disabled access to stations – thankfully that omission has almost been corrected, after decades of work retrofitting lifts to every MTR stations.

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