Modernising the MTR M-Train fleet

Hong Kong’s fleet of Metro Cammell build ‘M-Train’ EMUs formed the core of the Mass Transit Railway system from opening in 1979, but after two decades in service they were looking dated, so in 1996 the decision was made to modernise them.

Artists impression by Chris Barrett

A noticeable change in the days before platform screen doors was the new front end.

Design drawings by Chris Barrett

The other being the upgraded interior.

Design drawings by Chris Barrett

Along with a United Group badge inside the train.

'MTR train modernisation by Goninan' plaque onboard a MTR train

The full list of changes include:

Redesigning of the train’s front which originally featured a red stripe and a white fairing. The refurbished front has a silver and black coating with new electronic destination and train running number displays.

The interior changes include the replacement of lighting and seats, along with installation of new dot-matrix display showing news and weather information, and flashing system maps indicating the station and line that the train is running on.

The old black ball-shaped strap hangers were replaced with new red handles. The grab poles are now marked with red in the middle.

Some other changes included altering the fibreglass facade on the exterior ends to modernise their appearance, as well as the installation of the advanced digital voice announcement (DVA) and passenger information systems.

The first batch of ‘Phase 1’ trains were delivered by British firm Metro Cammell between 1979–1982, followed by phase 2A trains in 1982–1985, phase 2B trains in 1985–1986, phase 2C in 1988–1989, and the final phase 3 trains in 1994–1998.

The modernisation program commenced in August 1998 at Kowloon Bay Depot, with the first train entering service in December 1998.

Photo by Oliver Tsang/South China Morning Post

To farewell the last of the non-refurbished trains, on 19 August 2001 the MTR operated a special “Charity Ride on the Last First-Generation MTR Train” (第一代地鐵列車榮休之旅列車) with local railfans being out in force.

'Charity Ride on the Last First-Generation MTR Train' headboard - photo by HKRail.Net/John Shum, licensed under under CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo by HKRail.Net/John Shum, licensed under under CC BY-SA 4.0

All refurbishment works were completed in September 2001.

Running along a viaduct, a northbound train arrives into Kwai Fong station


Unlike the Metro Cammell EMUs used by the KCR on the East Rail line, I don’t believe any ‘spare’ carriages avoided the refurbishment program.

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2 Responses to Modernising the MTR M-Train fleet

  1. Arthur Yau says:

    Wonder if the spare carriages from the conversion to Disney line carriages are still at the Siu Ho Wan Depot? I think I saw a few, covered in green sheets, a few years back on the way to the airport.

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