MTR: Island Line

First cab off the rank of the line-by-line photo essays: the Island Line. You can see the whole set of photos here, and a track diagram is here. The vast majority of the line is in deep level bored tunnels, not cut and cover like the rest of the original MTR network, giving the line a distinctive look at platform level.

Kennedy Town is the western terminus, opened in 2014 as part of the extension from Sheung Wan, with two side platforms and a dead end turnback siding.

Platform level at Kennedy Town Station

Trains trains drop off passengers at one platform, change ends in the tunnel, then pick up passengers and a new driver for the eastbound trip.

'Arriving passengers only' notice for the terminating platform at Kennedy Town Station

Off into the single track concrete lined tunnels.

MTR train approaches Sai Ying Pun Station

Next come the island platforms at HKU station and Sai Ying Pun.

Platform level at HKU Station

Both stations are deep below ground, so feature ‘lift only’ entrances.

One way traffic into the double sided lifts to the surface at Sai Ying Pun station exit C

We then arrive Sheung Wan, the original western terminus of the Island Line.

Waiting for a train at Sheung Wan station

The tunnel lining transitioning to 1980s cast iron.

Transition between wide platform tunnel and narrow track tunnels at the west end of Sheung Wan station

Sheung Wan was also interesting in that it has a pair of “ghost platforms” at one exit, built to provide for future expansion – the best explanation of the situation is on this website (via Google Translate). Unfortunately by the time I visited in 2010 they had been blocked off for the construction of the West Island Line, which has used the area for more escalators.

'Ghost platforms' at Sheung Wan

The next station is Central.

Quiet platform at Central station

Interchange with the Tung Chung and Airport Express lines.

Directional signage at Central station

And then Admiralty.

Platform at Admiralty

Cross-platform interchange with the Tsuen Wan line.

In they come

Beyond here the line is back in deep level tunnels, with the stations all looking the same except for their wall colours.

North Point station is still deep underground, but has an cross platform interchange with the Tseung Kwan O line.

Platform at North Point

The next station, Quarry Bay, also has an interchange with the Tseung Kwan O line.

Platform at Quarry Bay

But the two lines are a long way apart, requiring two escalators and a lot of walking.

Next stop Tai Koo, with an island platform constructed in a massive cavern.

And Shau Kei Wan, a more conventional island platform.

Train pauses in the platform at Shau Kei Wan station

We then return to ground level at Heng Fa Chuen station. Here the platforms are either side of the running lines, with a row of columns holding up the concourse on top.

Chai Wan bound train arrives into Heng Fa Chuen

Passengers waiting on the opposite platform at Heng Fa Chuen

Train arrives into the other platform at Heng Fa Chuen

Heng Fa Chuen is one of the few above ground stations on the ‘original’ part of the MTR, and was not retrofitted with full height platform screen doors in the 2000s. Instead half height automatic platform gates will be installed, with the first part of the installation under test during my 2010 visit.

Automatic platform gates under trial at Heng Fa Chuen

Continuing east, the track climbs onto a viaduct and passes the Chai Wan Depot, which maintains both the track and trains of the Island Line. Like all MTR rail depots, a podium has been built over the top of the car sheds to allow housing to be built.

Chai Wan Depot

Just beyond the depot is Chai Wan statiom, the eastern terminus of the line. With an island platform between the tracks, there is enough time off-peak for a train driver to change ends then take the same train out again.

Chai Wan station: train departs platform 1 as passengers leave the train that just arrived on platform 2

Driver changing ends at Chai Wan station: about 5 minutes was allocated off-peak

To allow trains to enter the station at line speed, overrun tracks exist beyond the platforms.

Overrun tracks beyond Chai Wan station

(none of this 30 km/h crap you see in Melbourne!)

The overrun tracks are still on a viaduct, with a building straddling the tracks, and a beefy set of buffers located before the actual end of the track.

Overrun tracks at Chai Wan

Chai Wan overrun tracks, with a building over the top

Buffers mark the end of the line at Chai Wan

From here the only thing left to do is catch the train back – you could step off at Shau Kei Wan and change to the tram…

2020 update

I’ve finally updated this post to include the West Island Line extension, completed in 2014.

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8 Responses to MTR: Island Line

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  5. Arthur Y says:

    With the new westward extension of the line, you may want to update this page when you are in Hong Kong next time. I enjoy your rail pages very much.

  6. A Meow Cat says:

    Just saying – Central station isn’t a cross-platform transfer – it’s an odd arrangement of an island platform sandwiched between 2 side platforms above and below, angled at 45 degrees to one another, as can been seen in the layout that I inserted on my Interchanges page.

    • You’re right – it’s a really weird layout, with stacked side platforms like the rest of the Island line, and an island platform like the rest of the Tsuen Wan line.

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