Riding the Guia Hill cable car in Macau

I’ve visited Macau a number of times over the years, but one thing I never knew about the cable car. Named ‘Cable Guia’ (Chinese: 松山纜車; Portuguese: Teleférico da Guia) the aerial gondola lift runs through a park to the top of Guia Hill, home of the Guia Fortress and lighthouse.

Cable car leading to the top of Guia Hill

The cable car opened in 1997 and has 9 gondolas, each holding 4 passengers, with a one-way trip costing MOP$3 – around 40 US cents!

Cable car leading to the top of Guia Hill

The ride takes only 80 seconds, with the gondola lift running on a single cable.

Top station of the Guia Hill cable car

Top station of the Guia Hill cable car

Footnote

For anyone hoping to avoid stairs heading up the hill, yoiu’re out of luck – the bottom station at Jardim da Flora isn’t actually located at ground level! You need to climb a number of flights of stairs to reach the loading platform.

Bottom station of the Guia Hill cable car

Further reading

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Truck blocks tunnel after a 90 degree spin

Here’s a bizarre situation I stumbled across recently – a truck sitting at 90 degrees to the walls in a Hong Kong road tunnel, after somehow performing a 90 degree spin!

truck at 90 degrees to road (Tseung Kwan O Tunnel, photo via Apple Daily)
Photo by a Mr Wang / via Apple Daily

The original article from the Apple Daily explains how the truck came to be.

April 24, 2016

A truck in the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel spun out of control, suspected to be due to rainy road, running across two lanes, and forcing three vehicles behind to immediately stop, resulting in a 4 car pileup.

The article also includes dashcam footage of the truck spinning out.

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Towing MTR trains with diesel locomotives

On my 2013 visit to Hong Kong I came across an odd sight in the sidings at the MTR West Rail line’s Pat Heung Depot – a SP1900 EMU coupled up to a diesel locomotive. So why was such a train assembled?

MTR diesel #8005 (Siemens “Eurorunner” model ER20) coupled to a SP1900 EMU at Pat Heung Depot

Digging around on YouTube, I found a number of videos showing SP1900 EMUs being hauled behind the MTR’s fleet of ‘Eurorunner’ model ER20 diesel locomotives.

My earliest find was this video from 2008, showing a SP1900 train set being hauled behind locomotives 8003 & 8004 at Fanling.

But the remainder of the videos all date to 2015. Here we see a push-pull consist southbound near Sha Tin.

Another southbound push-pull consist – this time at Kowloon Tong station.

And finally, a southbound move crossing over from the East Rail to the West Rail line at Hung Hom station.

The Chinese version of Wikipedia’s article on the SP1900 trains explains why the trains need to be moved from one half of the ex-KCR network to the other.

After the opening of the Kowloon Southern Link in August 2009, all East Rail and Ma On Shan Line SP1900 trains are now maintained at Pat Heung Depot. Trains for overhaul are towed by diesel locomotives, via a track at Hung Hom Station north of platform 3.

While the article on Pat Heung Depot explains why there was a sudden flood of train movements in 2015.

As part of the preparation for the Shatin to Central Link, all East Rail, Ma On Shan Line and West Rail line SP1900 trains will be modified at Pat Heung Depot into 8-car long trains for use on the future East-West Corridor.

The connection between the East Rail and West Rail line can be seen north of Hung Hom Station platform 3.

Single track connection between West Rail and East Rail lines at Hung Hom

The track looks to be electrified, so reason for the diesel haulage is presumably signalling related – West Rail and Ma On Shan Line train use the SelTrac automatic train operation system, while East Rail trains are fitted with the older TBL (ATP) system.

A coupler footnote

Unlike the older Metro Cammell EMUs used on the East Rail line, the front coupler of a SP1900 EMU is hidden away behind a front faring.

The two types of train on the MTR East Rail line

With a hinged door allowing the coupler to be exposed when needed, such as in the workshop.

KCR SP1900 EMU with open front coupler door (from 2001 KCR Annual Report)
Photo from the 2001 KCR Annual Report

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Dummy railway track and overhead for training MTR staff

Hong Kong is a busy city and any issue with the rail network that serves it causes massive delays. For this reason heaving well trained staff is critical, but there is one problem – it can’t be safely carried out when trains are running. For this reason a number of short pieces of dummy railway track and overhead have been built across Hong Kong, allow this training to be carried out without danger.

Signals at the Tung Chung end of Sunny Bay station

Kowloon Bay depot

At the MTR Kowloon Bay depot I found this short piece of track.

Training rig at Kowloon Bay depot

It consists of a short piece of disconnected track, a set of points, and dummy overhead wiring erected lower than normal to allow for easy access by staff.

Training rig at Kowloon Bay depot

East Rail at Tai Wai

I found another length of disconnected track and overhead parallel to the East Rail line north of Tai Wai station, just off Man Lai Road.

Training track parallel to the East Rail main line at Tai Wai

Again, overhead wires have been strung above the tracks.

Mockup overhead wires close to ground level for staff training purposes

Along with a set of dummy traction power feeders and circuit breakers.

Mockup overhead wires close to ground level for staff training purposes

And an emergency overhead support post, used to hold up the overhead wires following any damage to the lineside posts.

Emergency overhead support in place on the training track at Tai Wai

East Rail at Ma Liu Shui

Another training facility on the East Rail line, this time north of University station. It consists of two short parallel tracks, linked by two sets of points and a catchpoint, but with no overhead wires.

MTR East Rail training track north of University station

Apparently both these training facilities on the East Rail line are out of use – replaced by trackage more conveniently located elsewhere at Ho Tung Lau Depot.

Light Rail at On Ting

I spotted a curious German language note on this 1996 diagram of the MTR Light Rail network, near the loop marked ‘Yau Oi’:

das gleis stuck in der schleife dient zur schulung bei der oberleitungsmontage. die hohe der oberleitung liegt hier bei etwa 1.5 meter

Which translates to:

The track within in the loop is used for training in the catenary mounting. The high of the catenary here is approximately 1.5 meter

Today the reversing loop and overhead poles is still in place, as is a rectifier station that powers the light rail network, but the wiring itself has been removed.

Rectifier station R3, overhead training facility, and abandoned reversing loop - MTR Light Rail at On Ting

Further reading

And some Google Maps links:

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Closure of Kai Tak Airport and the transfer to Chek Lap Kok

The closure of Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport in 1998 and the overnight switch to the new airport at Chek Lap Kok always intrigued me – how did they manage such a massive move?

Kai Tak airport terminal

From the Wikipedia page on Kai Tak:

The new airport officially opened on 6 July 1998. All essential airport supplies and vehicles that were left in the old airport for operation (some of the non-essential ones had already been transported to the new airport) were transported to Chek Lap Kok in one early morning with a single massive move.

On 6 July 1998 at 01:28, after the last aircraft departed for Chek Lap Kok, Kai Tak was finally retired as an airport. The final flights were:

  • The last arrival: Dragonair KA841 from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (Airbus A320) landed runway 13 at 23:38.
  • The last scheduled commercial flight: Cathay Pacific CX251 to London Heathrow Airport (Boeing 747-400) took off from runway 13 at 00:00.
  • The last departure: Cathay Pacific CX3340 ferry flight to the new Hong Kong International Airport (Airbus A340-300) took off from runway 13 at 01:05.

A small ceremony celebrating the end of the airport was held inside the control tower after the last flight took off. Richard Siegel, then director of civil aviation of Hong Kong, gave a brief speech, ending with the words “Goodbye Kai Tak, and thank you”, before dimming the lights briefly and then turning them off.

After the last plane, a Cathay Pacific A340-300, took off from Kai Tak International Airport to new Hong Kong International Airport at 01:28 HKT, Kai Tak was closed, transferring its ICAO and IATA airport codes to the replacement airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Finding photos of the last day at Kai Tak was a difficult task, but I came across this footage from the Associated Press archives.

It features:

Kai Tak:

  • Airport staff dancing and cheering;
  • Worker: “Bye Bye Kai Tak”;
  • Convoy of lorries leaving airport with equipment;
  • Exterior airport;
  • Cathay Pacific plane taking off – last flight to leave airport;
  • Dragonair plane landing – last flight to arrive;
  • Convoy of lorries en route to Chek Lap Kok airport;

Chek Lap Kok

  • Equipment being unloaded at new terminal;
  • Cleaners washing sidewalk;
  • Painters putting final touches to exterior;
  • Interior of new terminal as final preparations made for Monday’s opening;

Kai Tak

Airport official: “The last passenger has arrived the last flight has departed, the runway is quiet – it is now time to turn the lights out that have safely guided thousand of planes…Goodbye Kai Tak and thank-you”; clapping;

After closure, the Kai Tak terminal and airport control tower lay idle – on my visit to Hong Kong in March 2004 they were still there.

Kai Tak airport control tower

Demolition soon followed, but today large parts of the site still lay idle, almost 20 years since closure.

2010 view of the approach to runway 13 at Kai Tak

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