Mixing the old and new KCR trains

The MTR fleet of Metro Cammell EMUs has been conveying passengers on Hong Kong’s East Rail line for over 30 years, having originally been purchased by the Kowloon-Canton Railway in 1982 to serve the newly electrified route. In that time they received a mid-life refurbishment, which resulted in ‘new’ and ‘old’ trains running together.

Village houses beside the line at Sha Tin

As originally built, each Metro Cammell EMU was a standalone three-car train with a driving cab at each end, capable of being coupled up into trains of six cars (two EMUs), nine cars (three EMUs) to 12 cars (four EMUs).

Original KCR Metro Cammell EMU arrives into Hung Hom station (photo by Joseph K.K. Lee)
Photo by Joseph K.K. Lee / gakei.com

Refurbishment of the trains was completed between 1996 and 1999, and saw the progressive removal of these three-car trains from service and their reformation into fixed 12-car long trains.

In the shadow of Hong Kong suburbia

On at least one occasion the unusual sight of a single train made up of the two types of carriage ran – this photo by John Shum dated February 1999 shows a original EMU set coupled up to the tail end of a less than 12-car long refurbished train.

Mixed original and refurbished Metro Cammell EMU train at Hung Hom station, February 6 1999 (HKRail.NET/John Shum, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0)
HKRail.NET/John Shum, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0

I’m curious as to why the movement occurred – I’m going to assume that it was carried out without passengers.


You can find a further photo of the two trains coupled here.

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8 Responses to Mixing the old and new KCR trains

  1. xahldera says:

    Lack of shunters maybe? Or maybe there was passengers on board and it was just the KCR’s attempts to keep as many usable train cars as possible on the line to avoid disruption?

  2. Rick W says:

    I have been travelling onto such trainset with front 6 coaches being the refurbished stock and the last 6 coach was the old stock.

    My understanding is that the refurbishment took place every 6 cars.

  3. A Meow Cat says:

    That does not look very safe to me – hopefully KCR did something about that open gangway end!

    • I wonder if the end doors via the cab were for passenger use, or staff only?

      • xahldera says:

        I recall from very hazy childhood memories the end doors in the cab were emergency exits. The unrefurbished train compartments at the time had emergency signs pointing towards them. Presumably in an emergency, the trains would not be moving. A similar arrangement is found in older London Underground and current Glasgow Subway trains, where there would be signs warning not to use the door when the train is in motion and it is only for emergency use.

  4. Pingback: Coupling new and old on the East Rail line - Checkerboard Hill

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