Hong Kong railways *do* have level crossings

With the majority of Hong Kong’s railway network running either underground in tunnels or above ground on viaducts, you might be forgiven for thinking that it is a system without level crossings. However, as with anything in life there is always an exception, so let’s take a look at them.

Running along a viaduct, a northbound train arrives into Kwai Fong station

The most obvious example is the MTR Light Rail network in the New Territories. Here the majority of tracks are at grade, with standard traffic lights preventing road vehicles from entering the intersection when Light Rail Vehicles are passing through. On the rail front it appears either track circuits or induction loops are used to detect approaching LRVs, and activate the rail signals and road traffic signals.

Level crossing on the Light Rail near the On Ting stop

Now clutching at straws, my next example of a level crossing is at Hong Kong Disneyland. Here the narrow gauge Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad forms a 1500 meter circuit around the edge of the theme park, serving two stations along the way. Much of the railway runs above the ground on an embankment, allow visitors to enter and exit the park on walkways the pass underneath, but to permit overheight vehicle access a level crossing is provided across the tracks in the back of house area. Equipped with off-the-shelf level crossing warning equipment, the only difference to a mainline level crossing is green paint to make it blend in with the background.

Railroad level crossing on the Hong Kong Disneyland backlot

As for the final and most obscure level crossing, we take a trip to the far end of the MTR East Rail Line. Located just before the border crossing with China, this level crossing provides employees with access to the marshalling yards at Lo Wu. I didn’t visit the crossing myself during my Hong Kong visit, but stumbled across a photo of it taken by local railfan Rick W – luckily Google Streetview also decided to pay a visit to the area, driving down Fu Tei Au Road in Sheung Shui until they came to a halt at the locked gate.

Level crossing on KCR East Rail

Unfortunately you won’t be able to find other museum pieces like semaphore signals and Electric Staff safeworking in Hong Kong, for those you just need to come back to Australia and ride the Melbourne suburban network!

Footnote: railway depots

MTR depots across Hong Kong also have level crossings – simple ones like this one at Tsuen Wan.

Track fan outside Tsuen Wan depot

And Chai Wan depot on the Island Line.

Level crossing across the yard tracks at Chai Wan depot

Or fully protected like a mainline railway – Siu Wan Ho depot on Lantau Island.

Level crossing at the entrance to the MTR Siu Wan Ho depot

And Ho Tung Lau depot on East Rail.

MTR truck crosses the level crossing on the siding tracks at Ho Tung Lau Depot

Footnote: KCR pre-electrification

The Chinese-language Wikipedia page on level crossings lists six level crossings once found on the British Section of the Kowloon-Canton Railway:

  • Before Tai Po Road, near Lion Rock Tunnel Road (Tai Wai)
  • Tai Po Road, near Lok Lo Ha (Fo Tan)
  • Tai Po Road, near Yuen Chau Tsai (Tai Po)
  • Tai Po Road, near Wong Kong Shan (Fanling)
  • San Fung Avenue, south of the Lung Sum Avenue intersection (Sheung Shui)
  • At the extreme end of Fu Tei Au Road (Sheung Shui)

All six level crossings were either closed or grade separated as part of the 1980s upgrade of the KCR.

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One Response to Hong Kong railways *do* have level crossings

  1. Pingback: Public safety advertisements and the KCR Light Rail - Checkerboard Hill

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