Driving through the Tsing Ma Bridge lower deck

Virtually every visitor to Hong Kong crosses the Tsing Ma Bridge – it is the only route linking Hong Kong International Airport to the rest of the city. But what most people don’t know is that the bridge has a second roadway for emergency use, located beneath the main deck.

Crossing the Ma Wan viaduct towards the Tsing Ma Bridge

The second longest suspension bridge at time of completion in 1997, the Tsing Ma Bridge has a main span of 1,377 metres (4,518 ft) and a clearance below of 62 metres (203 ft), the towers being 206 metres (676 ft) high. Together with the Ma Wan Viaduct and the Kap Shui Mun Bridge, it forms the 3.5 kilometre long Lantau Link, with six road lanes on the top deck, and two railway tracks and two road lanes on the lower deck.

The railway tracks carry trains on the MTR Airport Express and Tung Chung lines between Lantau Island and the rest of Hong Kong, but there isn’t much to see from the train window – just steel bridge trusses, and blue water far below the tracks.

Railway tracks beneath the Tsing Ma bridge

The lower deck also houses two single lane roadways for emergency use. The entry at the Lantau Island end of the bridge is easy to see.

Entrance to the lower deck roadway of the Tsing Ma Bridge

The roadway has 50 km/h speed limit, with vehicles over 4.6 metres high or carrying dangerous goods being banned from the confined space.

Entrance to the lower deck roadway of the Tsing Ma Bridge

The lower roadway is only open when required – with special regulations applied during periods of high winds.

Stage I
Hourly mean wind speed in excess of 40 kph but not exceeding 65 kph

  • Wind susceptible vehicles will be banned from using the Upper Deck of the Lantau Link and be diverted to use the Lower Deck.
  • Centre lanes (both directions) of Lantau Link will be closed to road traffic by displaying a “red cross” land use signal.
  • Changing lanes on the Upper Deck is not allowed when the centre lane is closed.
  • All vehicles must observe the speed limit of 50 kph.

Stage II
Hourly mean wind speed in excess of 65 kph

  • Upper Deck of the Lantau Link will be completely closed.
  • All vehicles should use the Lower Deck of the Lantau Link.

Here we see a motorcyclist headed west through the lower deck roadway after typhoon signal 8 was raised.

The same view from onboard a double decker bus.

As well as the journey back east over the bridge.

Footnote

Until 2015 the Tsing Ma Bridge Marathon also resulted in traffic being diverted onto the lower roadway with runners taking over the top deck – the route has since changed to avoid traffic disruptions.

Further reading

Photos of the Tsing Ma Bridge under construction, including views of inside the lower deck.

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Disneyland Resort Line trains elsewhere on the MTR

For trains on the Disneyland Resort Line the task is pretty simple – shuttle between Sunny Bay and Hong Kong Disneyland all day, with nobody in the driving cab, and the onboard computer doing all of the hard work. But on very rare occasions, they can be seen elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Passing a northbound train for Sunny Bay at the crossing loop

But even driverless trains need regular maintenance, which for the Disneyland Resort Line trains requires a trip to Siu Wan Ho depot, a short distance down the Tung Chung line.

MTR Disneyland Resort line train on the test track at Siu Wan Ho depot

A track connection at the Tung Chung end of Sunny Bay station allows the trains to move between the two lines.

End of the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay

But for heavy overhauls the facilities at Siu Wan Ho depot are not up to the job, so the Disneyland Resort Line trains need to visit Kowloon Bay depot – the biggest maintenance facility on the MTR network.

But how do these trains make it halfway across Hong Kong? They move by night, after the last passenger carrying services have stopped running.

The route itself is quite convoluted:

小蠔灣車廠
→荔景站4號月台
→入荔景側線
→倒車回荔景2號月台往美孚站
→旺角站2號月台經渡線往油麻地站觀塘線月台
→九龍灣車廠

Which in English is:

Siu Wan Ho depot
→ Travel along Tung Chung Line
→ Lai King Station platform 4
→ Enter Lai King siding
→ Exit to Lai King platform 2
→ Travel along Tsuen Wan Line
→ Mong Kok Station platform 2, traverse crossover to Kwun Tong Line platforms at Yau Ma Tei Station
→ Travel along Kwun Tong Line
→ Kowloon Bay Depot

Footnote

The ‘MTR之今昔’ website has a full MTR network track diagram that shows the links between the normally separate MTR lines.

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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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