Finding the last KCR ‘Yellow Head’ train

For almost two decades, the mainstay of the Kowloon Canton Railway was their fleet of Metro Cammell EMUs, nicknamed ‘Yellow Head’ (黃頭) for the colour of their driving cabs.

Photo by Joseph K.K. Lee /

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).

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.

Sun going down of an evening

But there was one problem – there was one three-car train left over!

The orphaned set was E44, made up of carriages 144, 244 and 444.

KCRC photo

The set last made a public appearance on 27 July 2002 when the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation held a “East Rail Nostalgic Train Trip & Charity Fun Fair” to mark the retirement of the last ‘Yellow Head’ train, with over 3,000 members of the public attended the event.

East Rail Nostalgic Train Trip & Charity Fun Fair
17 July 2002

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) will organise an East Rail Nostalgic Train Trip & Charity Fun Fair on 27 July 2002 (Saturday) at KCRC Shatin Freight Yard. A retired first generation train will be exhibited at Shatin Freight Yard and opened for visit by the public.

Apart from a Giant Painting Competition, on stage performance, exhibitions, game booths and charity sale of artifacts will be organized on that day. KCRC will donate all the proceeds of the charity sale to ‘Senior Citizen Home Safety Association’ for the installation of personal emergency links for the elderly living along East Rail.

Admission tickets of East Rail Nostalgic Train Trip & Charity Fun Fair are distributed free of charge at four East Rail Customer Services Centres (Hung Hom, Sha Tin, Tai Po Market and Sheung Shui) starting from 18 July 2002 (Thursday). A maximum of four tickets will be given to each person on a first-come first-served basis.

The train was then put into storage at Ho Tung Lau Depot, next door to Fo Tan station.

Train depot under apartment towers

And there the train has sat, for 17 years and counting.

Photo by 無人之境 | Abandoned HK

The future for Metro Cammell EMU set E44 is uncertain, but by 2020 the last of the refurbished classmate will be retired, replaced by the incoming MTR Hyundai Rotem EMU fleet.

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6 Responses to Finding the last KCR ‘Yellow Head’ train

  1. xahldera says:

    Interesting. I always thought that all of the “Yellow head” EMUs were all refurbished into their current form. I never got to see the mockup car in the Railway Museum so I hope they will preserve at least one car from the original unit.

  2. Andrew says:

    Can the public go visit the depot to see the last train in person with appointment or admission of some sort?

    • If the MTR is like rail operators in Australia, I doubt it – best chance of getting a look would be to be an employee.

      The MTR has held open days in the past, but I haven’t heard any in recent years.

  3. A Meow Cat says:

    Conspiracy theory here: Set 44 was ommitted from the refurbishment because the number ‘4’ was a really unlucky number in Cantonese (and Chinese, by extension). Wonder how people were able to stand riding in a carriage numbered ‘444’.

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