Shanghai’s rubber tired tram

A long way off the beaten tourist track of Shanghai is an unusual mode of transport – the Zhangjiang Tram.

Rubber tired tram departs the terminus at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

It looks a little like a normal light rail system.

The 'tram' trundles down the road south from Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park

With a track running down the middle of the road, and overhead wires to supply electric power.

'Tram' guideway runs down the middle of the road

And platforms for intending passengers.

Pair of platforms at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park terminus

But the vehicles run on rubber tyres, guided by a central rail.

Headed into the middle of the road after departing Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

So are legally considered motor vehicles, and have registration plates affixed to the front.

Waiting for passengers at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park terminus

The 10 km (6.2 mi) line runs from Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station on Shanghai Metro Line 2 to Heqing Town, with 15 stops along the way. Construction of the Zhangjiang Tram started in December 2007, with the first tram running in December 2009. The Translohr system was originally developed by Lohr Industrie of France.

A note on the track

The trackwork for a Translohr system differs to standard tram tracks.

Crossover between up and down tracks at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

The pair of rubber tyres leave scuff marks behind.

Scuff marks on the concrete mark where the rubber road wheels roll

Beneath each vehicle are a pair of guide wheels arranged in a ‘v’ shape.

Diagram of the Translohr guided tramway wheels
Diagram via Wikimedia Commons

1- Road
2- Flangeway
3- Rail
4- Resin
5- Wheel flange
6- Spring
7- Wheel

Which engages the central guide rail, which has two running faces.

Detail of the central guide rail embedded in concrete and asphalt

But the pointwork is the most complicated part of the system – the ‘frog’ section made up of two rigid pieces of rail fixed to a solid plate.

Detail of the point blade in the central guide rail

Which rotate in place to direct the guide wheel along the straight or diverge route.

Detail of the point blade in the central guide rail

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Changing trains at East Tsim Sha Tsui

There are many interchange stations on Hong Kong’s MTR, but the connection between Tsim Sha Tsui station on the Tsuen Wan line and East Tsim Sha Tsui station on the West Rail line has to take the cake as the most complicated.

Moving walkways in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

As soon as you exit the ticket gates at East Tsim Sha Tsui station, a wall of signage offers a world of destinations – so checking the station map is a good start!

There are multiple exits back to street level.

Stairs and lift back to ground level in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

And a labyrinth of pedestrians subways connecting the two stations.

'Red Zone' signage in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

Some of which feature travelators to speed your passage, or reduce the amount of walking required.

Moving walkways in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

And assigned colours to tell them apart. There is the ‘Green Zone’.

Moving walkways in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

A ‘Yellow Zone’.

'Yellow Zone' signage in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

And the ominous sounding ‘Red Zone’.

'Red Zone' signage in the corridor linking East Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui stations

Along with an unbranded section beneath Nathan Road.

Pedestrian corridors beneath Tsim Sha Tsui linking surrounding buildings to the MTR station

Which hopefully leads you to Tsim Sha Tsui station.

Ticket barriers at Tsim Sha Tsui station

And a ticketing footnote

The subways linking the two Tsim Sha Tsui stations is outside the ticket gates, so someone using a ‘Single Journey Ticket’ cannot use it for a free transfer. This is because single journey tickets are retained by the fare gates on exiting the station.

Touchscreen MTR single journey ticket machine

But Octopus card holders don’t necessarily get a free transfer either – the fine print on the Octopus card fare table has the following conditions:

Separate entry and exit gates are installed at Tsim Sha Tsui and East Tsim Sha Tsui stations. Octopus users who interchange between these two stations within 30 minutes will be considered as having taken one journey.

The full fare for the first sector travelled will be deducted when exiting the first station. The remaining balance of the fare will be deducted upon exit at the final destination. If the total fare is less than the first sector charged, a refund of the amount over-deducted will be credited to the Octopus at the final exit gate. However, any same station entry and exit trip at these two stations will be treated as a separate journey, and not form a part of an interchange journey, with a separate fare.

Passengers are reminded not to use the same Octopus on other transport (including Light Rail, MTR Bus and MTR Feeder Bus) or make more than 9 non-transport related transactions during the 30-minute
interchange interval. Otherwise, full fares for two separate journeys will be charged.

The last line is the interesting bit – it appears that an Octopus card only remembers the last 10 actions, and so making too transactions while changing stations will result in the original station ‘A’ exit record being overwritten, meaning the interchange will not be recognised when entering station ‘B’.

There have been also software bugs in the Octopus card system that have resulted in the interchange discount being incorrectly applied, the most recent in April 2016.

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Another developer uses Melbourne to sell Hong Kong property

While reaching my recent piece titled “Using the Melbourne lifestyle to sell Hong Kong property” I happened to find a second example of the practice – this time for the ‘Savannah’ development, which is also at Tseung Kwan O.

The advertisement starts with a rowing crew walking their boat along Melbourne’s Yarra River.

Then jumps to the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club rooms, which have been fitted out as an apartment.

Now we’re driving down Flinders Lane, near the corner of Queen Street.

Then looking out on the corner of Bourke and William Street.

Shopping in the Bourke Street Mall.

Then cycling along the Yarra.

Stopping for coffee at Teatro restaurant in Southbank.

Then take to the skies near Melbourne Park.

Grab a drink at Federation Square.

Jog over the Seafarers Bridge.

Ride through the Alexandra Gardens.

Then end on the banks of the Yarra River.

But with the Melbourne CBD skyline photoshopped out.

Looking downstream from the Morell Bridge

And that isn’t all

If you head to the website for the ‘Savannah’ development, the only photos you’ll find are of Melbourne.

Sitting on the banks of Albert Park Lake.

Watching the boats at Williamstown.

And the same photoshopped view of the Melbourne skyline we saw earlier.

As with my previous post, this property developer gets away with it using a similar wording to last time.

The photographs, images, drawings or sketches shown in this advertisement/promotional material represent an artist’s impression of the development concerned only. They are not drawn to scale and/or may have been edited and processed with computerised imaging techniques. Prospective purchasers should make reference to the sales brochure for details of the development. The vendor also advises prospective purchasers to conduct an on-site visit for a better understanding of the development site, its surrounding environment and the public facilities nearby.

And another cyclist

I pointed out Australia’s mandatory bicycle helmets laws in my last post, and this advert is no different – the cyclists featured are sans helmet.

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Using the Melbourne lifestyle to sell Hong Kong property

On my 2013 visit to Hong Kong I was sitting in front of the TV at my 姑媽 (aunt’s) house,trying to make sense of shows that I didn’t understand, where a commercial for a Hong Kong property development appeared during the ad break, with some sights that were very familiar to me.

The advert was for a development in Tseung Kwan O called The Papillons (海翩滙).

Where “scenic waterfront bicycle paths and jogging trails” feature.

But this isn’t Hong Kong – but Southbank Promenade in Melbourne, Australia!

This cafe looks inviting, but isn’t in Hong Kong either – World Restaurant & Bar at Riverside Quay, again in Melbourne.

A “vibrant central piazza” is another feature – but it’s actually QV Melbourne.

“Streetscape of boutique and style”.

Embiggen Books of Melbourne.

The people of Hong Kong aren’t big on coffee, but you can buy one at this new development.

Or you can at Cargo Restaurant in Melbourne.

There is a “grand tower lobby and drop-off area” – or there is at Crown Towers Melbourne.

Time for a drive – through the CityLink Sound Tube.

Then over the Bolte Bridge.

It’s also “close to Tseung Kwan O MTR station” – but they’re riding a Melbourne train.

This can’t be a Hong Kong park – you’re allowed to walk on the grass!

That’s because it’s Fawkner Park in Melbourne, with Eureka Tower in the background.

And goal posts for Australian rules football hiding in the background.

So how do property developers they get away with such deceptive advertisements?

A big fat disclaimer.

Footage has been edited and processed with computerised imaging techniques and was not taken at or from the Development or its vicinity

Some hidden localisation

For some reason the film crew used some footage from a road tunnel that isn’t in Melbourne – I assume it’s somewhere in Hong Kong.

But they did bother to put a Hong Kong registration plate on the car.

The registration plates of Victoria look quite different.

So why Melbourne?

So why does imagery of Melbourne feature so often? A check of their sales brochure finds more examples.

As well as a “Experiencing the Yarra River lifestyle” tag line.

So why do the developers think life in Melbourne is something to aspire to?

享受澳洲墨爾本Yarra River式寫意河畔生活 優悠購物休憩之樂。
THE PAPILLONS海顧涯基座為河畔生活品味大道,連接行人購物街。街上遍植林木, 各式時尚商店、品味餐廳°,一直向河畔海濱延伸。其寫意氛圍令人如置身澳洲墨爾本 Yarra River

Which translates to:

THE PAPILLONS is a riverside lifestyle avenue that connects pedestrian shopping streets. The streets are full of trees, fashion shops, and tasteful restaurants that extend to the riverside. Its freehand atmosphere is like being in Melbourne, Australia

But some culture shock

The developers claim The Papillons is a “low-density development with spectacular views”.

In Melbourne, “low density” looks like this – houses sprawling over the countryside.

New houses taking shape at the Meridian estate on Thompson Road in Clyde

But the Hong Kong version is a cluster of “only” six apartment towers, ranging in height 12 to 18 storeys.

Everything is relative!

Looking over Tolo Harbour towards Ma On Shan New Town

A footnote on helmets

Australia is one of the few countries in the world where bicycle helmets are required by law, so spotting a Melbourne cyclist without one is a rare sight – except in the video, where they left it out.

Compare this to a 2016 advertising campaign by global airline Emirates, who had to photoshop a bike helmet onto the head of a cyclist, so that the advertisement would comply with Australia’s advertising laws.

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Building the Shatin to Central Link tunnels at Shek O

On my 2016 trip to Hong Kong I headed to Shek O and found something odd along the way – a sign for the MTR’s new Shatin to Central Link railway project, despite the nearest piece of track being on the opposite side of Hong Kong Island. So what was the deal?

Entry to the MTR immersed tube tunnel casting basin at Shek O

Shek O is better known for the beach.

Concrete lifeguard towers on the beach at Shek O

But the sign I saw referenced MTR contract #1121, which relates to the Cross Harbour Tunnels that will carry trains between Hung Hom and Causeway Bay, passing beneath Victoria Harbour.

Pleasure boats moored in the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter

But investigating MTR contract #1121 finally gave me the reason for the Shatin to Central Link sign appearing in such an odd location.

Shatin to Central Link (SCL) Contract 1121 is the cross harbour tunnel to extend the East Rail Line (EAL) from the North Ventilation Building at Hung Hom Landfall to the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter (CBTS). As Immersed Tunnel (IMT) was selected as the construction method, a suitable casting basin is a pre-requisite for commencement of the immersed tube prefabrication work.

The ex-Shek O Quarry is the unique location in Hong Kong that is suitable for such large scale precasting work. It is located on the south-eastern part of Hong Kong Island, on the western side of D’Aguilar Peninsula and next to Shek O Country Park. Its favourable conditions for prefabrication of immersed tube tunnel sections includes its large and deep basin, which is capable for pre-casting of the whole immersed tunnel in one go.

The immersed tube tunnel sections are spaced out in the casting basin. (the original plan was for only 10 segments)

Environmental Impact Assessment for the Shatin to Central Link, diagram NEX2213/C/331/ENS/M50/026

They also describe the casting process:

Three major items are needed to be set up in Shek O site to facilitate the pre-casting of the units. The first one is the temporary dock gates that were used to dam the two existing openings at the basin to allow the pumping away of contained seawater. A dock gate was formed as a gravity-type retaining wall made of seawall blocks with a sheet pile wall in front to seal in the water.

The second item is the barging point to facilitate the delivery of major construction materials by sea and relieve the traffic loading on Shek O Road.

The last item to be set up is the on-site concrete batching plant. It is the most critical facility for the reinforced concrete tunnel box pre-casting since the supply of concrete will directly affect the progress of work.

Once the casting basin was dewatered, formation work was carried out and concrete paving placed for precast unit construction.

The 1.66km long pre-cast immersed tunnel is divided into 11 elements with typical length of 156m. Each element will be further divided into nine bays for on-site construction. The typical construction sequence of an immersed tunnel is described as below.

1. Install steel plates at bottom and both sides (approx. 1.7m high) of tunnel external walls as waterproofing membrane.
2. Construct the tunnel base slab with wall kicker.
3. Construct the tunnel wall and roof slab.
4. Pre-stressing (post-tensioning) work and apply waterproofing to external wall and roof.
5. Install ballast tanks inside tunnel and steel bulkheads to seal up the tunnel openings at both ends.

By July 2016 work on the immersed tube tunnel sections was well underway.

Photo by Tim Leung / Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Hong Kong branch

Many organisations visited the site, including the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.

Photo by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

And by March 2017 a milestone was reached – the completion of the final immersed tube tunnel section.

Photo via Tunnelling Journal

Two months later the casting basin had been completely flooded.

Photo via Mapei Far East

And in June 2017 the first tunnel section exited the basin, bound for Victoria Harbour.

Photo by MTR Corporation

Where it will be prepared for the next stage of the tunnel construction process.

The IMT units will be towed one by one to a holding area near Tseung Kwan O for installation of two 30-metre surveying towers equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS).

They will then be attached to floating pontoons equipped with mooring wires and other immersion equipment. These systems and equipment will guide the complex yet highly controlled submersion process for each unit to ensure correct horizontal and longitudinal movements for precise positioning on the seabed.

This first, fully equipped IMT unit will then continue its journey to Victoria Harbour in mid June 2017 for immersion and installation in the vicinity of the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter.

And by 2018 the casting basin was looking rather empty.

Google Maps satellite imagery

The final immersed tube tunnel segment was installed in April 2018.

Photo by MTR Corporation

And by July 2018 reinstatement works for the Shek O casting yard had been completed.


“Adventure under Victoria Harbour” – a video by the MTR Corporation.

Further reading

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