A history of MTR train control centres

The MTR network has grown since the first train ran in 1979, and so has the systems used to control the network.

Down end of the crossing loop on the Disneyland Resort Line

The initial MTR system

In 1979 the first part of the Mass Transit Railway system opened, between Kwun Tong and Central.

Photo via Apple Daily

With a Central Control Room (CCR) established at Kowloon Bay Depot to manage the first trains.

MTR photo from 1979

The centre being expanded through the 1980s to control the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Island lines.

MTR photo from 1985

It was then upgraded to a computerised control system provided by CSEE Transport between late 1995 and 1998.

Kowloon Canton Railway

During the 1980s the Kowloon Canton Railway was electrified and modernised.

Photo by Joseph K.K. Lee / gakei.com

With a central signal control room opened at Hung Hom to manage trains on the railway north to Lo Wu.

Photo via 香港巴士論壇

In 1994 the KCR control room was moved to their new head office at Fo Tan.

The control systems also being upgraded.

Railway Technology photo

An expanding MTR network

The Lantau Airport Railway project was launched during the 1990s, but the MTR control room at Kowloon Bay was at maximum capacity.

Airport bound train passes Sunny Bay station

So the decision was made to build a new control centre at Tsing Yi station, big enough to incorporate all existing lines and future extensions.

MTR photo

The centre opened in 1998 to control the brand new Airport Express and Tung Chung Line, with the migration of the Kwun Tong Line, Tsuen Wan Line and Island Line being done in stages between 1999 and 2000, allowing the decommissioning of the Kowloon Bay centre.

Controlling an expanded KCR network

In 2003 the KCR opened the brand new West Rail line, running north from Kowloon.

Tuen Mun bound train approaches at Tin Shui Wai station

With trains being managed by a new control centre at Kam Tin.

The East Rail line was also expanded, with the Ma On Shan branch opened in 2004, followed by the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line in 2007 – but trains on these lines were managed by the existing KCRC Fo Tan control centre.

Passing a Tai Wai bound train on the Ma On Shan line

Rail merger

Following the 2007 MTR–KCR merger the decision was made to merge the operations of Hong Kong’s railways to a single control centre at Tsing Yi.

MTR photo

Work on the 超級車務控制中心 (“Super Operations Control Centre”) commenced in November 2012 with a HK$117 million upgrade of the ​​700 square meter main hall, featuring a 120 meter long ultra-high-definition screen. Control of the East Rail Line and Ma On Shan Line were handed over to Tsing Yi at the end of March 2013, with the West Rail Line handed over on June 23, 2013.

Today 170 employees are responsible for 24 hours operation of the centre.

Further reading

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