Hong Kong pop up books by Kit Lau

During my 2016 visit to Hong Kong I dropped into a few local bookshops on the hunt for something a big unusual, and I hit gold – the book ‘Hong Kong Pop-Up’ by illustrator, designer, and paper engineer Kit Lau.

The book cost HK$428 and was sealed up in shrink wrapped plastic, so the purchase was a bit of a gamble, but thankfully the text inside was both in English and Chinese, and the pop up buildings mind blowing.

Six different styles of Hong Kong houses are depicted inside ‘Hong Kong Pop Up‘ – each occupying a double page pop-up spread.

  • Cantonese Tenement (Tong Lau)
  • Shanty Town
  • Resettlement Estate
  • Kowloon Walled City
  • Public Housing Estate
  • Private Condominium Complex

And when I visited Hong Kong in 2019 I stumbled upon a second of his books – 《陸上公共交通》 (‘Hong Kong Ground Public Transportation‘).

Again wrapped in plastic I didn’t get a chance to take a look inside before buying it, but this time my luck ran out – all of the text was in Chinese!

Thankfully the artwork was still worth it – double page spreads on the evolution of the Hong Kong Tramways, KMB buses, local taxis, public light buses, the Kowloon Canton Railway, the MTR, and the Peak Tram.

Further reading

Kit Lau describes his creative process here.

Kit Lau’s website can be found at skronex.com, along with his full bibliography.

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MTR ZER4 battery electric locomotives

I’ve written about the MTR’s Brush Traction battery electric locomotives used to help maintain their rail networks before, but there is a new class of locomotive joining the fleet – the CRRC built ZER4 units.

CRRC Corporation photo

The CRRC website describes the ZER4 battery electric locomotives, in this article from December 2015.

The ZER4 Hong Kong Battery Electric Vehicle is developed in accordance with the relevant technical contract requirements of the Hong Kong MTR. It is suitable for the climatic conditions of Hong Kong and is mainly used for the traction of rail vehicles and the shunting of vehicles.

It is a battery electric engineering vehicle that can be powered by the contact net and the vehicle battery. It is suitable for the track line powered by DC 1500V contact network. The construction vehicle is a double-end driver’s cab, the structure of the central corridor, with good visual field conditions, low noise and green environmental protection. This type of engineering vehicle has been applied to the Hong Kong Island South Island Line.

This type of engineering vehicle has the characteristics of excellent performance, high reliability, energy saving and environmental protection, strong applicability, good maintainability and low life cycle cost (LCC). It embodies the design concept of energy saving, emission reduction and green environmental protection.

Main technical features:

  • coupler same as the MTR electric multiple units.
  • air brake system uses the DK-II type electric air brake.
  • dual power supply system, with pantograph.
  • direct-AC electric drive system, and generates four asynchronous traction motors by generating three-phase AC power through a VVVF inverter composed of high-power IGBT modules. The electric brake adopts regenerative braking and resistance braking for energy efficiency.
  • vehicle traction battery charger, which can charge the vehicle battery while running, saving charging waiting time.
  • can be used in multiple unit with others of the same design.
  • The key components of the current receiving device, traction battery pack, traction converter, traction motor, and bogie are all mature, reliable and application-oriented components, with good maintainability and high reliability.

Along with a list of specifications:

Current system: DC1500V (contact net), DC800V (battery)
Electric drive mode: straight-to-electric drive
Gauge: 1435mm
Shaft type: B0-B0
Axle weight: 14t
Wheel diameter: 840mm (new round)
Curve passing ability: 110m
Traction power: 400kW (contact wire), 300kW (battery)
Maximum speed: 65km/h (contact wire), 40km/h (battery)
Starting traction: 100kN (contact wire), 100kN (battery)
Electric braking power: 300kW (contact wire), 300kW (battery)

By January 2016 the new locomotives had entered service on the South Island Line.

With the MTR having invited tenders for additional locomotives in 2019.

Supply of Battery Electric Locomotives
Contract No.: Q070242

MTR Corporation Limited invites qualified suppliers to express their interest in tendering for the supply of 13 units battery electric locomotive, with an option of 6 units. The locomotives shall be running on MTR DUAT Lines with track gauge of 1432 mm, maximum gradient of 3.2%, minimum radius of 140 m at depot, maximum axle load of 17 ton, maximum cant of 150 mm, and maximum cant gradient of 1:440.

The battery electric locomotives shall be bi-mode operated (1500 VDC catenary or traction battery) and be capable to drive in tandem or multiple unit at speed not less than 65 kph on tangent level track with 204 ton trailing load.

A battery related footnote

In 2015 the MTR invited tenders for additional battery banks for their locomotive fleet.

Traction Battery for Battery / Electric Locomotives
Contract No.: Q040908

MTR Corporation Limited invites qualified suppliers to express their interest in tendering for the supply of the traction batteries for Battery / Electric Locomotives.

The scope of supply is 241 battery crates. Each crate shall contain 35 nos. of traction lead acid battery cell of 365AH completed with auto-filling system. The battery crate shall be new and cell case shall be flame retardant and low smoke.

The prequalification process for the tender will take place in June 2015 and tenders will be invited in August 2015.

Further reading

This journal article describes the design of the ZER4 locomotives, but it’s Chinese language AND behind a paywall.

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MTR CKD0A diesel electric locomotives

The list of diesel locomotives in Hong Kong keeps on growing now that I’m digging into the MTR maintenances and work train fleet – the latest entry is the Chinese built CKD0A diesel electric locomotives.

China CNR CKD0A diesel-electric locomotive stabled on a works train at Pat Heung depot

The units were ordered in November 2012:

Following fierce competition, the first independently developed diesel locomotives made on the Chinese mainland have been selected by Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway Corp for use in its world-class transit system.

China CNR Co announced last week that it has secured an order worth more than 160 million yuan ($25.7 million) from the MTR for 23 diesel locomotives made with its proprietary technologies.

The designer and builder of the locomotives is a wholly owned CNR subsidiary headquartered in Dalian, Liaoning province.

According to an announcement from the State-owned railway equipment manufacturer, its CKD0A locomotives ordered by the MTR meet the strictest global emission standards and reduce operational noise to less than 70 decibels, lower than the 78-decibel standard on the Chinese mainland.

It can run at 80 kilometers an hour powered by two electric motors and a diesel engine. The design also provides more interior room by eliminating the need for a gearbox, which also improves the locomotive’s reliability.

The driver’s cab has two sets of controllers equipped with computer and cruise control systems.

The CKD0A locomotive is expected to be used in MTR’s rolling stock in addition to subway vehicle rescue.

The contract calls for the first locomotive to be delivered to MTR by March 2014, followed by a 5,000-kilometer test run.

The manufacturer describes them as:

The CKD0A diesel locomotive is an electric drive diesel locomotive developed by China CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co., Ltd. according to the requirements of the Hong Kong Railway Company.

The locomotive has the characteristics of low emission, low noise, large traction, strong curve passing ability, high degree of automation, high reliability, small maintenance workload, etc. It is fully applicable to the urban subway company’s shunting operation and is the most advanced direct current in the world. Transmission diesel locomotive. The locomotive adopts the subway limit and is a double-cab indoor corridor structure.

It is equipped with CATERPPILAR company C32 diesel engine, which can meet the EU Stage IIIB emission standard and the loading power is 830kW. It adopts AC and DC electric drive, and the auxiliary equipment drives the AC motor drive mode; auxiliary control The voltage is 74VDC; the locomotive shaft is Bo-Bo, the continuous traction force is 149kN, and a single train 250t train can be started on the 35‰ ramp or at 18km/h. The maximum running speed of the locomotive is 80km/h. Adopting German KNORR An air-to-air brake system controlled by the MBS microcomputer in accordance with the UIC standard; with resistance braking and reconnection control functions; and anti-air-slip anti-slip control function.

Along with a list of specifications.

Diesel engine loading power


Resistance braking maximum power


Maximum operating speed


Continuous speed


Adhesive start traction


Continuous traction


Wheel diameter


Tooth ratio


Fuel reserve


Cooling water reserve


Sand reserve


Oil reserve


Number of cabs


By 2015 locomotives were being unloaded at Pat Heung Depot on the West Rail Line, with the 23 locomotives numbered L9001 through 9023.

The first four locomotives entered service in 2016.

The first four of 23 diesel locomotives which MTR Corp ordered from CCRC Dalian in September 2012 have entered service in Hong Kong following the completion of testing. They will be used to haul maintenance trains on the existing network, and to support the construction of the Shatin – Central Link.

The 830 kW locomotives have a maximum speed of 80 km/h. According to the manufacturer, they are designed to meet international standards, complying with European Stage IIIB emission standards and also taking into account human factors in the layout of the low-noise cabs.

Further reading

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KCRC JMY450 diesel hydraulic locomotives

I’ve written about the Kowloon Canton Railway’s fleet of diesel locomotives before, as well as the MTR’s fleet of battery electric and diesel locomotives, but turns out I was only scratching the surface – on the West Rail line there is another type in use – the Chinese built JMY450 diesel hydraulics.

MTR diesel locomotive stabled on a short works train at Pat Heung Depot

The locomotives were ordered by the KCRC as part of the West Rail line works, with the HK$33 million contract SP-2100 awarded to Shenzhen Sunray Group Co Ltd in June 2000, with the first three locomotives handed over in May 2001.

The first three KCR West Rail diesel locomotives, are completed in Changzhou, Jiangsu, today (Wednesday) and handed over to Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) by the Deputy Mayor of Changzhou.

The major function of the locomotives is to provide effective and convenient transportation on the newly installed West Rail tracks during the project’s construction stage, enabling engineering staff to install other railway systems along the 30.5 km alignment of West Rail in an effective manner.

The locomotives ready for delivery in Changzhou, China, were handed over to KCRC at a ceremony officiated by Deputy Mayor of Changzhou, Mr Wang Zhengping. The three locomotives will then be delivered to Hong Kong in June. The remaining 11 locomotives to be supplied under the same contract will come in four batches, with the last batch arriving in Hong Kong in April next year.

The on time delivery of the locomotives is of significance to the construction of West Rail as it will facilitate the commencement of the installation work of other railway systems contracts, including telecommunications systems, train control and signalling, as well as traction power supply and overhead line.

“The timely delivery of engineering supplies is critical to opening of West Rail on time and within budget. The West Rail project is progressing well and we are confident that West Rail will commence operation by the end of 2003,” a KCRC spokesman said.

The diesel Locomotives contract, with a value of $33 million, was awarded in June last year. The contractor is Shenzhen Sunray Group Company Limited, which is under the Ministry of Railways of China.

The manufacturer, now known as the Changzhou Kate Mining Machinery Engineering Company, describe the locomotives:

JMY450 hydraulic diesel locomotive can be applied for standard track gauge or for short distance operation, it also can supply traction power for other usage. 14 locomotives of this type have been ordered by Hong Kong Kowloon-Canton Railway corporation (KCRC).

The locomotive is provided with Caterpillar diesel engine with low fuel consumption and electrical fuel ejecting system and the emission of which can comply to EUR II standard, hydraulic reversing, electrical automatic gear shift, low speed control,and faults protecting device. The locomotives can be multiple unit operated, and kept with low noise and pollution which comply to the environmental protection specification of Hong Kong Government.

The Program Logic Controller(PLC) has been applied in electrical system, and the international advanced safety running automatic protecting system (ATC) has been applied in the locomotive.This type of locomotive is kept with good performance, easily operating, high reliability, small volume and long life.

Along with a specification sheet:

14 locomotives #1001-1014 are assigned to the West Rail Line, with an additional two locomotives #1101-1102 to the Ma On Shan Line. Their primary use is shunting trains around maintenance centres, such as this SP1900 set at Pat Heung Depot.

Further reading

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Cycling in Hong Kong

Hong Kong isn’t known as a cycling city – for transport or for leisure. But if you take a closer look, you’ll eventually find them.

Beating traffic with his beat up bike

Hong Kong Island and Kowloon

Delivering packages to a shop.

'Australian Dairy Co' - it isn't actually Australian at all!

Gas bottles.

Shell Gas bikes with front and rear racks for gas bottles

Crossing Nathan Road in Kowloon.

KMB bus TP6612 on route 238X along Nathan Road

Or Hennessy Road in Wan Chai.

Delivery goods by bike on the streets of Hong Kong

Dodging trams on Des Voeux Road Central.

First Bus #4028 on route 25 crosses Des Voeux Road Central

Or even riding along the tracks.

Man on a homebrew cargo bike rides on the tram tracks, with a 'Safety First' tram behind!

New Territories

I wasn’t until I visited the New Territories to find people cycling for fun.

Looking over Tolo Harbour towards Ma On Shan New Town

Bike paths run beside the water.

Apartment blocks tower over the Ma On Shan Promenade

And bike paths connect tower blocks.

A long way down

I found people cycling to shopping centres.

Mix of bikes parked outside the Tai Po Hui Market

MTR stations.

Rows of bikes parked at the bus interchange

And occasionally taking their bike on the train.

Passengers with bikes depart the train at Kowloon Tong station

Cycling being so popular that ‘no bike parking’ signs had been installed, along with plastic screens to prevent people from locking their bikes to the fence.

'Illegally parked bicycles will be removed' sign at the Tai Wai station bus interchange

The New Territories was the only place where I saw bike shops.

Bike shop on the edge of central Tai Po

Folding bikes appear popular for recreational cyclists.

Folding bikes chained up to a roadside fence

But some shops cater to more serious cyclists.

Bike shop in an industrial area in Tung Lo Wan

But the only place I saw a ‘serious’ road cyclist was in the hills climbing out of Repulse Bay.

Cyclist on the hilly road to Repulse Bay

Outlying Islands

A cycling utopia – that is what the outlying islands of Hong Kong are, thanks to their narrow streets and lack of cars.

Main street of Cheung Chau: bikes are the main mode of transport

There were shops hiring bikes to tourists.

Bikes for hire or sale on Cheung Chau

And the occasional cargo trike.

Tricycle among the bikes at Peng Chau ferry pier

As soon as you stepped off the ferry, bikes were everywhere.

Bikes parked on the ferry pier

But the bike parking areas were something else.

Bikes parked everywhere at the Yung Shue Wan ferry pier

Bikes parked everywhere.

Bikes parked everywhere at the Yung Shue Wan ferry pier

There is a 24 hours time limit for bike parking.

'Bikes may not be parked longer than 24 hours' notice at Yung Shue Wan ferry pier

With the government reserving the right to close the parking area with 14 days notice, so that abandoned bikes can be removed.

'Cycle parking may be suspended, and any remaining bikes removed' notice at Yung Shue Wan ferry pier

And I found one such clearance operation underway.

'Clearance of illegally parked / abandoned bicycles' notice at Yung Shue Wan ferry pier

And the bike share plague

The bike share industry entered Hong Kong in December 2017.

Ofo and Gobee bikes parked on the street

With green ‘Gobee’ and yellow ‘ofo’ bikes soon appearing across the city.

Ofo bike awaiting hire on Argyle Street, Mong Kok

I found the bulk of the bikes dumped in the New Territories.

Dozens of share bikes dumped at a bike park in Tung Chung

Beside the road.

Another dumped ofo bike in the bushes outside the Tsz Shan Monastery

Down dirt paths.

Dumped ofo bike in the bushes outside the Tsz Shan Monastery

In the bushes.

Another dumped ofo bike in the bushes outside the Tsz Shan Monastery

Slowly getting covered in weeds.

Dumped ofo bike in the bushes outside the Tsz Shan Monastery

Nowhere near as creative as the dumped oBikes in Melbourne, Australia but just as messy.

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