Since the 1970s the Mass Transit Railway network has expanded to cover much of Hong Kong, but at Kwu Tung in the northern New Territories there is something different – a ghost station that has no trains stopping at it.
Named Kwu Tung (Chinese: 古洞站) the station was built as part of the Lok Ma Chau spur line project of the early 2000s, which extended the East Rail Line via a mix of tunnel and viaducts to an additional border crossing at Lok Ma Chau.
As part of this project it was decided to build provision for a future station at the midpoint of the tunnel, to serve the Kwu Tung New Development Area.
A box for the future Kwu Tung station will be constructed using diaphragm walls excavated to rock head. The box may be excavated before the TBM passes through, or after the TBM has passed through, in which case the precast lining units will be removed during excavation. Bored piles will be driven concurrent with the diaphragm wall to provide the basis for the future station construction.
Break out and break in ground treatment will be required to enable the TBM to enter and exit the station box safely and without wall collapse. Even if the TBM drives through the area before excavation on the first drive, it is likely to pass through an excavated box of the second drive. A temporary floor slab will be required to be constructed below the level of the second TBM drive and it will need to incorporate a suitable ‘bedding” on which the TBM can pass over.
With the station box requiring additional support during the construction process.
The Northern Link will be a railway line between the Kam Sheung Road Station on the existing West Rail Line and a new station at Kwu Tung on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. The Northern Link will have a route length of about 10.7 km, and provide shuttle service between the two terminal stations (i.e. Kam Sheung Road Station and Kwu Tung Station).
Passengers will be able to interchange at the Kam Sheung Road Station with the East West Corridor, and at the Kwu Tung Station with the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line
Construction of the Northern Link was expected to commenced in 2018 with the line opening in 2023, but no progress has been made so far.
But this never terminal was not enough, so an even larger Terminal 3 was built on the other side of the airport.
Dwarfing the rest of the airport – Terminal 1 and 2 are barely visible to the top left.
Construction of Terminal 3 started in March 2004, and opened in two stages. Trial operations commenced in February 2008, with the complete terminal opening in March 2008. Terminal 3 was the largest airport terminal-building complex in the world to be built in a single phase, with 986,000 m2 (10,610,000 sq ft) in total floor area, with 72 jet bridges and 78 remote gates across the main passenger terminal (Terminal 3C) and two satellite concourses (Terminal 3D and Terminal 3E).
But even this massive airport isn’t big enough to cater for China’s explosion in air traffic – Beijing Daxing International Airport is currently under construction – featuring 4 runways, 268 parking bays, and a 700,000 square meter terminal.
Travelers rushing through Terminal 1 at Beijing Capital International Airport used to freeze in their tracks when they caught a glimpse of a mural with lush tropical colors, crisp lines and sensuous curves of three naked women washing their long tresses.
Inspired by the traditions of the Dai minority in Yunnan province, Water-Splashing Festival: An Ode to Life, unveiled in 1979, marked the difficult rebirth of the “aesthetic movement” in Chinese art after decades of political turmoil in the 1960s and ’70s, according to critics.
The piece catapulted painter Yuan Yunsheng to the global stage as an avant-garde artist emerging from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution.
Some further Chinese-language articles on the mural – 1, 2, 3 and 4.
It’s been three years since my son first visited Hong Kong, so it’s time for another visit to see the extended family
This time around we visited a few places I’ve been to before but wanted to share with the rest of the family, some new places we’d never ever been to, as well as my usual side trips to see trains – including railway lines that didn’t exist on our last visit.
Day 1: arrival and Airport Express train
Day 2: Wong Tai Sin and Tsim Sha Tsui, MTR Island Line and Admiralty interchange
Day 3: Tsz Shan Monastery, Tai Po Market and Hong Kong Railway Museum
Day 4: Hong Kong Island trams and Wan Chai
Day 5: Repulse Bay, Mong Kok, MTR South Island and East Rail lines
Day 6: Hong Kong Dolphin Watch tour off Tung Chung, Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, Central-Mid-Levels escalators,
Day 7: Hong Kong Observation Wheel, MTR Hung Hom station
Day 8: Lamma Island, MTR Kwun Tong line extension
Day 9: Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, MTR Sai Ying Pun station, Kwun Tong, Ma On Shan, East Rail and Racecourse lines
Day 10: Peak Tram, Hong Kong Park, Kowloon Bay
Day 11: Route 81 bus from Kowloon to Sha Tin, MTR East Rail, NWFB Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus
Day 12: MTR West Rail and Tuen Mun light rail
Day 13: Mong Kok, Hong Kong Airport, Tung Chung, Discovery Bay by bus
Day 14: Hong Kong Airport, MTR Tung Chung Line, West Kowloon railway station, Whitty Street tram depot, Discovery Bay by ferry
There has been plenty written about the Shanghai Maglev train and the magnetic levitation technology which allows to reach a maximum speed of 431 km/h on the journey from Pudong International Airport. But none of it covers the operational details of the line – how many trains, how they change tracks, and where there are maintained. So let’s go for a deep dive.
The Shanghai maglev train (Chinese: 上海磁浮示范运营线) is a magnetic levitation train that operates in Shanghai. The line is the third commercially operated magnetic levitation line in history, after the British Birmingham Maglev and the German M-Bahn, the first commercial high-speed maglev, and the fastest fastest commercial high-speed electric train in the world.
Construction of the line began in March 1, 2001 and cost $1.2 billion to build, with public commercial service commenced on 1 January 2004. During a non-commercial test run on 12 November 2003 a maglev train achieved a Chinese record speed of 501 km/h.
Each train is 153 metres (502 ft) long, 3.7 metres (12 ft) wide and 4.2 metres (14 ft) tall, and has a three-class, 574-passenger configuration. The train set was built by a joint venture of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp from Kassel, Germany and based on years of tests and improvements of their Transrapid maglev monorail.
The double track guideway was built by local Chinese companies, the double line being 30.5 km (18.95 mi) long with a separate single track leading to a maintenance facility.
Going for a ride
For passengers arriving at Shanghai Pudong Airport there are three travel options – bus, maglev train, and metro train.
The maglev train is the fastest, as well as the most expensive.
Speeding past both trains on the parallel metro line, and buses on the freeway.
But it also means the front of the train is quickly covered with splattered bugs!
But I finally got somewhere when I found this video by Luke Starkenburg, showing the crossover in use.
He also provided an explanation as to why I didn’t see it in use.
I shot these scenes back in 2006 when the Shanghai Maglev used the switches in daily operation, when two trains were providing the regular service, with a third spare train. The trains used to change tracks in a ‘pinched loop’ system.
Today, the maglev uses two trains running on their own dedicated track all day, with the switches not used in regular operation, except in the morning and evening to put the trains away in the depot.
On to the maglev depot
On my maglev journey I noticed a single track veer away from the main alignment, just north of Pudong International Airport.
It climbed above the parallel freeway, then headed back to ground level.
Scrolling around on Baidu Maps I eventually found where the track connected back to the main line.
While the three-way junction can be seen in this uncredited photo of a 3-car long train outside the depot.
Uncredited photo, unknown author and origin
And a hidden crossover
Turns out there are more junctions than just the crossover at Longyang Road station, and on the single track branch to the depot – while following the maglev guideway on Google Earth, I found another crossover track, located on a turnback siding south of the Pudong International Airport terminus.
Photo via Google Earth
Hidden away in the middle of a freeway median strip, I had no luck finding a ground level photo of the turnback track.
With my virtual exploration of the network complete, here is a complete track layout diagram for the Shanghai maglev.
Note that the station at Pudong International Airport has conventional ‘side’ platforms, while Longyang Road has an extra island platform in the middle to separate arriving and departing passengers.
And a footnote on train length
This 2003 article by Sina News describes the delivery of the maglev trains to Shanghai.
Yesterday two maglev trains carried by China Shipping Group aboard the ship “Taigu” docked at the Port of Shanghai, and will wait for assembly and commissioning. At this point, the number of maglev trains in Shanghai has increased to seven.
After the maglev train is officially put into operation, a total of three trains are required, running back and forth on the double track. Each train consists of 5 cars and can carry more than 400 people.
A pair of five-car trains can also be seen in this undated photo, but on my 2013 visit I only saw four-car trains.
So this just raises more questions – maybe the first test trains were only three cars long, then extended to five cars, until the 2006 fire resulted in the scrapping of some carriages, and the remarshalling of the remaining fleet into three shorter trains?
Some more footage
Luke Starkenburg also has fantastic lineside views of the Shanghai maglev on his YouTube channel – from January 2014.