Building a new railway is a complex operation, involving large quantities of raw materials, and a fleet of heavy construction equipment. All of these need to come from somewhere, which presented difficulties for the MTR when building the Lantau Airport Railway in the 1990s through West Kowloon. The solution – a temporary railway depot at Mei Foo.
The Lantau Airport Railway was built to connect the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok to the rest of urban Hong Kong, with MTR Airport Express and Tung Chung Line trains travelling along the northern shores of Lantau Island and newly reclaimed land at West Kowloon, crossing the waters in between on the Tsing Ma Bridge.
Construction materials and equipment could be landed on the Lantau side of the railway at the future MTR depot at Siu Ho Wan, but the Tsing Ma Bridge presented a stumbling block: there was no way to move materials to the Kowloon side before the bridge was completed.
As a result it was decided to build a temporary railway depot at Mei Foo so that track construction on the Kowloon side could start before the bridge was completed. A site on newly reclaimed land parallel to the future railway was selected, at what is now the intersection of the West Kowloon Highway and Tsing Sha Highway, next door to the Port of Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Railway Society visited the temporary depot in September 1997 – here you can find their photos:
- Looking south at the two-road engine shed, single track passes beneath the road behind
- Schoma diesel locomotive L15 in the shed
- Works train stabled in the shed
- Loading gauge check template above the depot exit track
- Looking south from Mei Ching Road towards the loading sidings
- Track fan at the loading sidings
- Flat wagons awaiting loading of construction materials
Following completion of the railway the mainline connection was removed and the depot abandoned. This Google Maps satellite view shows what remained of the depot in 2002, then idle for five years.
Remnants of the engine shed are visible.
As are eight dead-end sidings.
The sidings are also visible in the 2000-01 photo of the Kowloon Motor Bus depot under construction.
A single track linked the sidings and the engine shed, passing under Mei Ching Road via a concrete bridge. The structure is still visible on Google Street View today.
Today the bridge at Mei Ching Road is the only remnant of the depot, the land having been taken over by container parks for the Port of Hong Kong.
The buildings seen in this 1997 Hong Kong Railway Society photo still exist today on Hing Wah Street.