MTR JMD1200FX diesel electric locomotives

I’ve written about MTR’s fleet of maintenance and work trains before, but it turns out there is one class of diesel electric locomotives I’ve missed – the JMD1200FX units used on the Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

Jiangsu Jinchuang Vehicle Co. photo

The website (Chinese language) has further details on the JMD1200FX diesel electric locomotives.

The JMD1200FX locomotive is manufactured by Jiangsu Jinchuang Vehicle Co., Ltd. They are used by the MTR Corporation on the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway and are based at the Shek Kong Depot. They are numbered 19001-19003.

The bo-bo locomotives have a top speed is 80km/h and can be operated in multiple unit. Starting traction is 269kN and continuous traction is 182kN.

The locomotive features a CAT C32 V12-cylinder diesel engine, with a power of 895kW (1200 horsepower), coupled to a JF205F synchronous main generator produced by China CNR Yongji New Speed ​​Motor Co., Ltd. Overall weight is 80 tonnes.

A single locomotive can pull a 8-carriage high-speed EMUs (empty weight 490t) or double-head a 16-carriage high-speed EMUs (empty weight 980t) on a 3% gradient at 10km/h.

It can also pull a 8-car high-speed EMU (full load 536t) or double-head a 16-car high-speed EMU (full load 1072t) on a 2% gradient at 15km/h.

On level track it can also pull a 8-car high-speed EMU (full load 536t) or double-head a 16-car high-speed EMU (full load 1072t) up to 60km/h.


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

Hong Kong taxi on the streets of Toronto

I’ve written before about Hong Kong double decker buses in Australia, but what about a Hong Kong taxi on the streets of Toronto?

Michael Tsui photo

Hong Kong’s red Toyota Crown Comfort taxis are just as much of the streetscape as double decker buses.

Taxi and a double deck buses on Nathan Road

Be they roaming the streets.

Pack of Hong Kong taxis waiting for a green light

Blocking bus stops.

Hong Kong taxis stopped in a bus zone

Queued up at the airport.

Taxi queuing area to the north of the terminal building

Or on a country road

Hong Kong urban taxi, a Toyota Comfort

But a place you don’t expect to see one is on the streets of Canada.

Michael Tsui photo

Chris Tsui from The Drive explains how it came to be there.

A little background on how this particular Hong Kong taxi found itself on the streets of Toronto, Canada, though. It is, strictly speaking, a replica but quite a good one. Apparently starting out life as a taxi in Japan, it’s a 1997 Toyota Crown Comfort LPG that was shipped over to Toronto to be used as a movie-and-TV prop. Painted red and silver to emulate a taxi from HK, it can be seen briefly in 2013’s Pacific Rim.

In November 2021, current owner Alan Wu bought it and has spent much of the past year restoring and doing it up, getting it to look as much like the real thing as he can.

That means yellow interior stickers in both English and traditional Chinese outlining how much your ride is going to cost and what you are and aren’t allowed to do, a wood-bead cover on the driver’s seat, and that red “TAXI” light that flips up on the dash to let people know whether you’re taking passengers or not. The rooflight actually works. There’s a little device that prints receipts, a red coin box with the word “ECO” printed on it for some reason, and an entire squad of cell phones of varying vintage stuck above the gauge cluster. And the aftermarket audio system was tuned to Chinese talk radio. It really is the full HK taxi experience.

A definite labour of love.

Posted in Transport | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Farewell to the MTR Phase 2 Light Rail Vehicles

As Hong Kong’s rail network ages, old rolling stock gets replaced by new, and so we now see the first retirements on the MTR Light Rail system – the Phase 2 Light Rail Vehicles.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries photo

The Phase 2 LRVs entered in service in 1992, with 20 cab cars numbered 1071-1090 10 trailers numbered 1201–1210 built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries to almost the same design as the earlier Phase 1 stock. In the mid-1990s they received the blue, red and yellow KCRC livery, and following the 2007 rail merger MTR logos replaced those of the KCR.

Phase II LRV 1076 departs San Hui on route 614P

The years that followed were uneventful, until August 2015 when MTR Corporation announced that new light rail vehicles would be acquired to replace the Phase 2 LRVs. A contract was signed with CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock in July 2016 to purchase a total of 40 new vehicles, 30 to replace the Phase 2 LRVs, and 10 additional units to expand the fleet.

The first of the new Phase 5 LRVs arrived in Hong Kong in December 2018 and entered service in November 2020. Initial plans would see the last Phase 2 LRV withdrawn in 2023, but delays in the commissioning of the new vehicles saw the older ones kept in service longer than expected.

The first Phase 2 LRVs were withdrawn in August 2022, when vehicles #1079 and #1204 were loaded onto trucks at Tuen Mun Depot, and transported to the scrap yard.

Due to delays in the commissioning of the Phase 5 LRVs, not expected to be fully operational until 2025, the reminder of the Phase 2 fleet still have some time until they are also withdrawn.

Footnote: what about refurbishments?

Back in 2008 the MTR contracted United Group to refurbish 68 Phase 1 light rail vehicles.

Phase I LRV 1023 on Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long

So why didn’t the Phase 2 LRVs get the same treatment?

Some sources say “cost-benefit considerations” made buying new light rail vehicles cheaper than refurbishing them, and given there were only 30 vehicles in the Phase 2 fleet, that is possible.

However some suggest that the Phase 3 LRVs will get refurbished rather than scrapped, and that is a class of just 20 vehicles – so who really knows.

Further reading

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

KCR ‘Yellow Head’ trains at the MTR Kowloon Bay Depot

I found an interesting photo recently – multiple KCR ‘yellow head’ trains lined up in the sheds at the MTR’s Kowloon Bay Depot. So what were they doing there?

Heather Coulson photo

Well, Chinese-language Wikipedia has come to the rescue.

After the first batch of trains arrived in Hong Kong on 12 April 1981, they were assembled at the MTR Kowloon Bay Depot, then the assembled trains were transported to the Kowloon Canton Railway Kowloon Depot (now Hung Hom Depot) by trucks.

And over on the “Hong Kong Discuss Forum” (香港討論區) a poster shared some photos of these road movements, reproduced from a 1987 edition of KCRC’s internal publication “Voice of Railways”.

Footnote: an abandoned connection

At the time the Mass Transit Railway was being built, it was proposed that a temporary connection to the Kowloon Canton Railway would be built at Kowloon Tong Station for the transport of trains between the two systems. However the connection was never completed, the only trace being a small stub in the westbound Kwun Tong line tunnel.

Mass Transit Railway Protection Plan, Shek Kip Mei to Kowloon Tong – Drawing MTR/RP/11

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

Building Telford Gardens atop the MTR depot at Kowloon Bay

This is the story of the MTR Kowloon Bay Depot: the main maintenance facility for the Mass Transit Railway system, main stabling yard for the Kwun Tong line, head office of the MTR Corporation, and basement level of the ‘Telford Plaza’ shopping centre and ‘Telford Gardens’ housing estate.

Looking down on the MTR Kowloon Bay train depot

We start in the 1970s, as planning for the MTR ‘Modified Initial System‘ commenced.

A large piece of open space was needed for the depot to service the new railway – with the only candidate being on the shores of Kowloon Bay, next to the runway of Kai Tak Airport, on a piece of land reclaimed between 1969 and 1974.

Heather Coulson photo via HKU Library

The fledgling Mass Transit Railway Corporation was handed the land at Kowloon Bay by the Hong Kong Government in 1975, with the proceeds of property development helping to fund the rest of the initial MTR system.

  • The colonial government offered the land of $170 million for the purpose of car barn itself and HK$165 million for the title to develop the space above for residential and commercial purposes, for free.
  • In exchange for this government offer, the MTR Corporation issued equity of the same value and the colonial government accepted it.
  • In short, the Telford Garden constituted an equity injection of HK$335 million from the colonial government.

The ‘Telford Gardens’ property development that would sit on top consisted of 4,992 apartments across 41 towers.

Photo by Yau Tin-kwai/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

By June 1978 the elevated station and tracks at Kowloon Bay were almost completed, as was the concrete deck over future depot.

Photo by C. Y. Yu/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

With trial trains using the tracks from September 1978.

Photo by P. Y. Tang/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

By 1979 the new MTR head office was completed, and work was well underway on the first of the apartment towers.

Heather Coulson photo via HKU Library

By 1981 the south-west side of the Telford Gardens development had been completed.

Aerial photo via HKU collection

And by 1983 the 41 residential blocks making up the topside development was complete.

Aerial photo via HKU collection

This property development model was also applied elsewhere in Hong Kong, as a way to fund the expansion of the MTR network.

Further reading

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