Turning a MTR railcar around by crane

In normal service MTR trains are driven back and forth along the same line each day – only the driver changes cabs at the end of the line, with the carriages themselves always facing the same way. However the current remarshalling of the MTR SP1900/1950 EMU trains from a mix of 12, 7 and 4-car long trains into a uniform fleet of 8-car trains has seen the need to reverse some carriages. With no reversing loops, turntables or triangle junctions on the MTR system, this meant a heavy lift crane needed to be called in to pick up each carriage, turn it around, then place it back on the rails.

Photo from the Tai Wah Sea and Land Heavy Transportation website, July 2015

A group of railfans called the ‘Hong Kong Railway Development Group’ has a few videos on their YouTube channel showing the carriage turning operation at Pat Heung Depot:

In the SP1900/1950 train remarshalling program, more than 120 cars need to be reversed. To lift and move the weight of 37 to 51 tons is not a simple thing!

In order to secure the body so the car can be lifted, the engineering staff attach a yellow lifting frame at the ends of the carriage near the bogie, and then the crane. When the carriage is lifted, the ground personnel will pull the rope in advance of the four corners of the carriage, to assist the crane in the 180° reversal. Workers also need to ensure that eight wheels of the carriage have been placed back onto on the track.

Here we see Ma On Shan line driving carriage D514 getting turned by crane on 11 February 2017.

Followed by motor cars P509 and M509.

While this video from 13 April 2016 shows brand new intermediate carriages being shunted around the depot.

This diagram created by the Hong Kong Railway Development Group shows how a 4-car long Ma On Shan line train is remarshalled into an 8-car long train for the future East-West Corridor.

“需進行轉向” translates to “needs to be turned”.

I can see a whole lot of shuffling going on, and five out of the eight carriages needing to be turned – but I can’t see the logic in reversing both driving carriages to create a train that looks the same as before!

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Abandoned MTR locomotive running shed at Hung Hom

Following the opening of the new diesel locomotive running shed at Lo Wu in 2014, the facility at Hung Hom was taken out of use. The 無人之境 / Abandoned HK group of urban explorers paid a visit to it shortly before demolition.

機車行車室 Locomotive running shed
Photo by 無人之境 / Abandoned HK

Can can see the full series of photos on the 無人之境 / Abandoned HK Facebook page.

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Moving the East Rail locomotive running shed to Lo Wu

For over one hundred years the southern terminus of the Kowloon Canton Railway has been the home of Hong Kong’s railway motive power. Replacing steam with diesel power in the 1950s, relocating the terminus to Hung Hom in 1975, and the takeover by the MTR in 2007 didn’t diminish this. However the construction of the Shatin to Central Link finally did, with the locomotive running shed being relocated to Lo Wu in 2014.

MTR locomotive running shed at Lo Wu (photo by 水水, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by 水水, via Wikimedia Commons

The locomotive running shed at Hung Hom was located on the north side of the station, near the East Rail running lines.

Locomotive depot at Hung Hom

The Shatin to Central Link involves two new rail lines: a north-south tunnel under Victoria Harbour from Hung Hom to Admiralty station connecting to the existing East Rail line, and a east-west tunnel from Tai Wai to Hung Hom connecting to the existing West Rail line.

To make these new track connections, the tracks north of Hung Hom station have been drastically modified.

MTR East Rail train passes Shatin to Central Link works at Hung Hom station

With the locomotive running shed and freight yards having to make room for the new tracks.

Shatin to Central Link worksite beside the East Rail tracks at Hung Hom

The decision was made to move the locomotive depot to the Lo Wu freight yard, at the other end of the East Rail line, next to the border with mainland China. Work started in 2013, with the new facility opening in April 2014.

The facility at Hung Hom was then abandoned, with demolition commencing in August 2014.

More photos at Lo Wu

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Delivering the KCRC fleet of ER20 diesel locomotives

Back in 2001 the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation ordered five Siemens “Eurorunner” model ER20 diesel locomotives in Hong Kong. Originally intended to haul freight services, the locomotives remain in service today, but solely used on works trains and transferring EMUs trains between depots.

MTR diesel #8005 (Siemens “Eurorunner” model ER20) coupled to a SP1900 EMU at Pat Heung Depot

From the KCRC media release:

KCRC to purchase environmentally friendly diesel locomotives from Siemens
9 November 2001

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) today awarded a diesel locomotives contract to Siemens Ltd (Siemens). At a contract sum of HK$130 million, Siemens undertakes to provide the Corporation with five diesel locomotives with enhanced environmentally-friendly performance.

Designed and manufactured in Germany, the locomotives will be put into service gradually starting from the first half of 2004, after a series of stringent testing to be carried out from late 2003 to early 2004.

Currently, KCRC has 12 diesel locomotives which are mainly used to haul freight trains and engineering trains on the railway line. With the latest design and environmental concept, the new locomotives demonstrate substantial improvement in terms of noise emission. As compared with the existing locomotives, the noise generated will be reduced by up to 17dBA. The engine is also compatible with the use of ultra-low sulphur diesel which can reduce the emission of smoke and air pollutants effectively.

Under KCRC’s contract with Siemens, the first diesel locomotive will be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2003.

The five locomotives were built at the Siemens plant in Munich, Germany, then sent to the port of Bremerhaven in August 2003, where they were loaded onto a boat for the long voyage to Hong Kong.

Siemens publicity photo

On arrival in Hong Kong, the locomotives had to be transferred to a smaller cargo lighter before they could be brought ashore, at Hung Hom on 13 September 2003.

Photo by Tai Wah Sea and Land Heavy Transportation Limited

The official launch of the new locomotives occurred a few days later, on 17 September 2003.

黃賢創 photo, via Apple Daily

With the first locomotive being put into service on 16 January 2004.

KCRC photo

Here is the KCRC media release marking the occasion.

KCRC’s new generation of environmentally-friendly diesel locomotives goes into service
16 January 2004

A new generation of five environmentally-friendly diesel locomotives will be put into service on East Rail.

Designed and manufactured by Siemens Ltd, these new generation diesel locomotives incorporate the latest acoustic technologies and concepts. The locomotives, which cost $130 million, are the first of their kind to be introduced in Asia.

Speaking at the Handover Ceremony of the new diesel locomotives, Mr Samuel Lai, Acting Chief Executive Officer of KCRC said that in recent years, KCRC has been committed to adding environmentally-sustainable elements to its railway operations, freight operations, railway maintenance and new project development. Besides introducing quieter and more energy-efficient new trains, and building noise barriers along the railway alignment, KCRC had been taking new approaches to managing the impact of our construction on the environment. KCRC had also been making sure that the contractors of the new railway project could comply with all relevant environmental laws and requirements.

‘Today’s Handover Ceremony brings the Corporation to an important milestone in its continuous journey of environmental protection. The five new locomotives incorporate with the latest acoustic technologies and concepts can reduce noise by 17dBA and cut smoke emissions by 20% when in operation,’ Mr Lai added.

KCRC has 12 diesel locomotives, which are mainly used to haul freight trains and engineering trains on East Rail. The new locomotives will reduce the noise emitted by freight trains and overnight maintenance activities. After four months of rigorous testing, the locomotives will be put into service on East Rail starting late January 2004. They will replace five older models currently in the KCRC fleet.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Mr Denis Leung, President and CEO of Siemens Ltd said, ‘Siemens is honoured to be able to meet KCRC’s stringent environmental standards and requirements. We shall continue to innovate in our design and development of locomotive systems to better serve our clients with the most superior products in the market.’

KCRC will donate one of its old diesel locomotives, which had been in service for more than 47 years, to the Hong Kong Railway Museum where it will go on display for public viewing.

Diesel locomotive KCR 51 is still at the railway museum today, while KCR 52-55 were sold to an Australian company, who refurbished them for freight service in 2005.


Rick W on Flickr also has some photos of the KCR ER20 locomotives being unloaded from the ship.


Another photo here and here.

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Named trains of the MTR Light Rail

Trains in Hong Kong don’t have very much character – they all look much the same, with only their fleet numbers setting them apart. But on the MTR Light Rail network, there was an exception – a pair of light rail vehicles that were given their own names.

Phase II LRV 1090 approach Ming Kum on route 615

The first LRV to be named was Phase I unit 1004: 輕鐵先鋒 – LRV Pioneer.

Phase 1 LRV 1004 named "LRT Pioneer" departs Yuen Long station on route 615

Chinese language Wikipedia has the backstory.

In 1985, the first phase of the LRT contract was also approved in the same year, and the construction of the LRT system was officially started. In 1987, the first light rail vehicle (fleet number 1004) arrived in Hong Kong, and following the installation of equipment, a comprehensive inspection and performance testing process was commenced.

On December 10, 1987 the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation held a light rail vehicles commissioning ceremony at Shan King North Stop, where the chairman of the company named the first light rail vehicle 輕鐵先鋒 – LRV Pioneer.

Final Phase I vehicle 1070 was also named: 史禮賢 – F.D. Snell.

MTR Phase I light rail vehicle 1070 (photo by 'busiken', via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by ‘busiken’, via Wikimedia Commons

Again to Chinese language Wikipedia for the backstory.

The first phase of the Tuen Mun Light Rail system opened to the public on 18 September 1988. In December 1988 Leighton Holdings engineering manager Dudley Snell died, a key part of the team who constructed the first phase of the LRT system from Tuen Mun to Yuen Long.

On September 18, 1989 the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) celebrated the anniversary of the opening of the light rail system at the LRT Depot. At this ceremony company chairman Peter Quick, with Mr Snell’s widow Joan in attendance, named the final light rail vehicle 史禮賢 – F.D. Snell, and placed a plaque inside the vehicle.

A photo of the plaque can be found here – it read.

This Light Rail Vehicle No.1070 is named after Mr. F.D. Snell in memory of his contribution to the planning, construction and commissioning of the Phase 1 Light Rail Transit System.

KCRC – Light Rail Division
September 1989



Today no sign remains of the names: the plaque onboard 1070 was removed some time before the MTR-KCR rail merger of 2007, and the names on the exterior of 1004 and 1070 were removed as part of their 2011 refurbishments.

MTR Phase I LRV 1070 on route 615 in Yuen Long

Today they look just the same as the rest of the fleet.

Why was 1004 the ‘pioneer’?

The fleet of Phase I LRVs in Hong Kong is numbered 1001 to 1070. So why did 1004 get the gong as first LRV to run in Hong Kong?

Design issues and industrial action at Australian manufacturer Comeng slowed the entire project, delaying the completion of the first light rail vehicles, resulting in 1004 being the first LRV to depart the factory on 26 August 1987. it arrived in Tuen Mun on 5 October 1987, and first moved under power on 5 November 1987.

And who was F.D. Snell?

Wikipedia to the rescue.

Frederick Dudley Snell (14 December 1924 – 14 December 1988) was an Australian electrical engineer and tramways administrator. He grew up in Bendigo and following his education worked for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, and served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II.

He commenced work at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) in 1953, being appointed the MMTB’s fifth and last Chairman in 1976. Following the dissolving of the MMTB into the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in 1983, he became General Manager of the MTA Bus and Tram Division. Snell worked for the MMTB, MTA, and Leighton on Hong Kong’s Tuen Mun light rail system, and died in Hong Kong in 1988.

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