Travelling the ‘wrong’ way down the East Rail Line

Given the British influence on Hong Kong road and rail have one thing in common – traffic runs to the left. However for trains this isn’t always so, as this video shows.

Filmed at University Station, we see a southbound train using the platform normally used by northbound trains, due to a failed train sitting in the other platform.

These movements are made possible by the provision of lineside signals on both tracks in both directions.

Signals for the bidirectionally signalled East Rail line

As well as crossovers to allow trains to pass between the two sets of tracks.

Noise suppression walls surround the tracks

On the MTR East Rail line crossovers are provided at:

  • Hung Hom, scissors crossover at north end of station
  • Ho Man Tin, scissors crossover
  • Mong Kok East, scissors crossover at south end, facing crossover at north end
  • Kowloon Tong, scissors crossover at north end
  • Tai Wai, scissors crossover between station and Beacon Hill Tunnel
  • Sha Tin, facing crossover at south end, facing crossover at north end
  • Fo Tan, triple track station
  • Racecouse Junction, trailing crossover
  • University, scissors crossover near Tai Po Kau
  • Tai Wo, triple track station
  • old Tai Po Market, trailing crossover
  • Tai Wo – Fanling, scissors crossover midway between stations
  • Sheung Shui, scissors crossover at south end, facing crossover at north end
  • Lok Ma Chau, scissors crossover in tunnel, scissors crossover at station
  • Lo Wu, scissors crossover at south end of station

However running trains on the ‘wrong’ line to get around a broken down train isn’t an instant fix for service issues – forcing trains onto a single track causes long delays.

Here we see an East Rail train running on the ‘wrong’ line between Tai Po Market and University Stations, with a 16 minute wait until the line ahead was clear.

While this example shows single track working to avoid works at Ho Man Tin, resulting in the service between Hung Hom and Sha Tin stations being cut to one train every 10 minutes.


Despite the motorists of China driving on the right hand side of the road, the main line railways run on the left – an artefact of China’s first railway that was built by British interests.

Further reading

Left- and right-hand traffic at Wikipedia.

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5 Responses to Travelling the ‘wrong’ way down the East Rail Line

  1. Tom says:

    Hey, great post! Haha one train every 10 minutes..a nightmare for HKers, a miracle for Sydneysiders. This raised a question for me – is there a reason why the section south of Mong Kok east has such an extended triple track section? How and where do they shove a broken down train to clear the rails asap?

  2. Suleman Siddiqui says:

    After SuperTyphoon MangKhut the East Rail was down to single line operations on the first day as the MTR was only able to clear one line of tracks in the time given, it was chaotic to say the least.

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