Rail transport in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's rail network mainly comprises public transport trains operated by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRC). The MTRC operates the metro network of Hong Kong and the commuter rail network connecting the northeastern and northwestern New Territories to the urban area. The operations of the territory's two leading railway companies, MTRC and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC), were merged in 2007 on grounds of economies of scale and cost effectiveness. The Hong Kong Government has an explicit stated transport policy of using the railway as its transport backbone.[1]

In addition to the MTR network, there are several smaller railways run by different operators, including the Peak Tram and the Hong Kong Tramways.


The first mode of rail transport in Hong Kong was the Peak Tram, serving The Peak, the Mid-levels and the city centre since 1888. Tram started service along the northern coast of the Hong Kong Island in 1904. The British Section of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (later the KCR East Rail), a conventional railway, was opened in 1910.

It was not until 1979 that a rapid transit system, the MTR, was opened. Three years later, the British Section of the Kowloon-Canton Railway began its transition towards electrification, changing it into a commuter rail, and eventually providing rapid transit-like service. The Light Rail Transit (LRT, now the MTR Light Rail) began its operation in the Tuen Mun and Yuen Long new towns in 1988. The two railway companies, MTR Corporation Limited and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, merged in 2007 to form a single rapid transit network.

In 2018, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High Speed Railway opened to connect Hong Kong with the Mainland Chinese high speed network through a 26 km tunnel within Hong Kong to West Kowloon Station. It has many train services to many Mainland Chinese cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

There are several extensions planned or under construction, such as the Sha Tin to Central Link.


Causeway Bay MTR station on the Island Line.

The MTR network comprises 10 lines, 95 railway stations and 68 Light Rail stops:

This system makes about $2 billion in profit in 2014 which is mainly generated from its property holding and development business.[2] Its portfolio include two of the city's tallest skyscrapers.[2]


Hong Kong Tramways map

Note that the MTRC Light Rail system (see above) has many of the attributes of a tramway, including street running.

Cross-border servicesEdit

High speed railEdit

High speed train to Hong Kong departing Guangzhou South Station
West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, adjacent to Austin Station

A high-speed rail link connects Hong Kong with Shenzhen and Guangzhou in mainland China. The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link (sometimes abbreviated "XRL HK section") is a 26-km long stretch of high-speed rail that links Hong Kong to mainland China. The Hong Kong section opened for commercial service on 23 September 2018.[3] From West Kowloon Terminus, trains run through regional stations in Guandong Province, including Futian, Longhua (Shenzhen North), and Humen, to Guangzhou South Station and other cities in other provinces.[4][5]

With the completion of the rail link, the journey times have been reduced to 14 minutes between West Kowloon and Futian stations, 23 minutes between Hong Kong and Shenzhen North and 48 minutes between Hong Kong and Guangzhou South.[6] The service is a cooperation between the MTR Corporation and CR Guangzhou.

West Kowloon Station is served by both short-distance and long-haul train services. Short-distance services consist of a frequent service to mainland Chinese cities in neighbouring Guangdong province, including Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou, while long-distance services link Hong Kong to at least 16 major destinations in mainland China, including Beijing West, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou East, Wuhan, Changsha South and Shanghai Hongqiao.[7]

A new railway connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong was proposed in the late 1990s by the Government of Hong Kong. This Regional Express Railway (RER) proposal was developed in the 1994 “Railway Development Study” (RDS); it foresaw a continual growth of Hong Kong's population over the next two decades and strong demand for cross-border passenger traffic.[8] By 2002, the concept of “regional express” gained further development and the proposal was advanced to be a high-speed rail line.[9] Construction of the Hong Kong section began in 2010. Following delays and controversies,[10][11][12] West Kowloon station was formally opened on 4 September 2018 and high speed trains started to run on the rail link to destinations in Mainland China from 23 September 2018.[13]

Station Name
Station Name
Hong Kong West Kowloon 香港西九龍 / 香港西九龙   Tung Chung Airport Express (via Kowloon)
  West Rail (via Austin)
Yau Tsim Mong, Hong Kong

Guangdong through trainEdit

Commonly known as through train (chi. 直通車), the MTRC and railway companies of mainland China jointly provide cross-border train services from Hung Hom station, Kowloon, sharing most of the tracks with the East Rail line, to destinations in mainland China through neighbouring Shenzhen on three Through Train routes, namely Beijing line (to/from Beijing), Shanghai line (to/from Shanghai) and Guangdong line (to/from Zhaoqing and Guangzhou East). The Through Train is a legacy of Hong Kong's first railway, the Kowloon-Canton Railway. It is operated through the rail network in mainland China, including the Guangshen railway and Jingguang railway.

Automated People MoverEdit

There is an Automated People Mover (APM),[14] a driverless electric train service, which is located at the basement level of Terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport. It travels the length of the 750-metre concourse between the East Hall and West Hall on a circular mode. Running at a speed of 62 km per hour, each APM carries 304 passengers in four cars. The APM operates every 2.5 minutes from 0600 to 0030 hours every day. It transports passengers whose flights are located at the West Hall, Southwest and Northwest concourses.

Rail gauges and power supplyEdit

Rail gauges and power supply of Hong Kong rails.

Rail Rail gauge Power supply Remarks Signal system Height of platform Width of widest car (mm) Loading gauge width (mm) Height of tallest car (mm) Height clearance Height of contact wire


MTR      Island line,      South Island line,      Kwun Tong line,      Tseung Kwan O line,      Tsuen Wan line (collectively Urban Lines except for South Island Line)[15] 1,432 mm (4 ft 8 38 in) (except for West Island Line, South Island Line, and Kwun Tong Line Extension)
(almost standard gauge)

1435 mm (West Island Line, South Island Line, and Kwun Tong Line Extension)

1500 V DC [1] overhead cable SACEM and SACEM-SICAS for TKL, all lines to be upgraded to SelTrac in the 2020s 1100 mm (43.3 in) 3118 3250 (with fixed platform gap filler) 3312 (without gap filler)

3940 (without platform)[16]

3700 (MTR Metro Cammell EMU (DC) without pantograph)

3910 (MTR Metro Cammell EMU (DC) with pantograph folded)

3755 mm (without pantograph)[16]

4100 mm (with pantograph folded)

(~4904 mm with pantograph folded in depots)

4200 mm (nominal and min., as built to same standards as Tung Chung Line and Airport Express);

(~5029 mm in depots)

MTR      Tung Chung line,      Airport Express (collectively known as Airport Railway) 1,432 mm (4 ft 8 38 in)

(almost standard gauge)

1500 V DC (nominal) [2]; 1520 ± 20 V DC (in practice)[17] overhead cable SACEM, all lines to be upgraded to SelTrac in the 2020s 1250 mm (49.2 in)[16] 3118 (MTR Rotem EMU) 3250 (with fixed platform gap filler) 3312 (without gap filler)

3940 (without platform)[16]

3700 (MTR Adtranz–CAF EMU without pantograph) 3755 mm (without pantograph)[16]

4100 mm (with pantograph folded)

(~4904 mm with pantograph folded in depots)

4200 mm (nominal and min.);

4224.78 mm (mean);

4230 mm (max. on running lines)[17](~5029 mm in depot)

MTR      Disneyland Resort line 1,432 mm (4 ft 8 38 in)

(almost standard gauge)

1500 V DC [3] overhead cable SelTrac CBTC/R UTO 1100 mm (43.3 in) 3096 3250 (with fixed platform gap filler) 3312 (without gap filler)

3940 (without platform)[16]

3700 (without pantograph)

3910 (with pantograph folded)

3755 mm (without pantograph)[16]

4100 mm (with pantograph folded)

(~4904 mm with pantograph folded in depots)

4200 mm (nominal and min., as built to same standards as Tung Chung Line and Airport Express);

(~5029 mm in depot)

(note: depot shared with Airport Railway)

MTR      East Rail line,      West Rail line,      Tuen Ma line (formerly operated by KCR/KCRC) 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(Standard gauge)
25 kV AC overhead cable electrical supply same standard as railways in mainland China      East Rail line GEC-Alsthom TBL,Will be Resignal by Siemens Trainguard MT CBTC
     West Rail line,      Tuen Ma line SelTrac CBTC DTO
3 ft 6 in (1066.8mm)[18] 3220 (MTR Hyundai Rotem EMU) 3250 (with fixed platform gap filler) 3300 (without gap filler)

~3900 (without platform)


(Ktt Kinki Sharyo coach)[19]

16 ft 6 in (5029.2 mm) (with pantograph folded) 17 ft 4 in (5283.2 mm)[18] (nominal and minimum)
MTR      Light Rail (formerly operated by KCR/KCRC) 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(Standard gauge)
750 V DC overhead cable Siemens Trainguard IMU 100 910 mm

(35.8 in)

2650 2670 5250 mm (with pantograph folded) 5300 mm (nominal and minimum)
Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link Hong Kong section 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(Standard gauge)
25 kV AC overhead cable everything same standard as railways in mainland China 1250 mm (49.2 in) 3380 3400 5250 mm (with pantograph folded) 5300 mm[20] (nominal and minimum)
Peak Tram 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in)
(Russian gauge)
N/A N/A Funicular
Hong Kong Tramways 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) 550 V DC overhead cable N/A 20 ft 8 in (6299.2 mm) (with trolley pole folded) (estimated) 21 ft (6400.8 mm) (estimated)
Hong Kong International Airport Automated People Mover N/A (Automated guideway transit) 3-phase 600 V AC Third Rail SelTrac
Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad 3 ft (914 mm) N/A N/A powered by three steam-shaped diesel locomotives
Ocean Park Ocean Express [zh] 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(Standard gauge)
N/A N/A Funicular

List of densely populated places without rail transportEdit

MTR route mapEdit

MTR System Map with effect from 14 February 2020

Former systemsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ http://www.thb.gov.hk/eng/psp/publications/transport/publications/rds2014.pdf
  2. ^ a b Sigalos, MacKenzie. "How Hong Kong's subway turns a $2 billion annual profit". CNN Money. CNN. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  3. ^ "XRL to start operation on September 23". The Standard. 23 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Transport and Housing Bureau - Policy / Issues in Focus". www.thb.gov.hk.
  6. ^ "Key Information". Express Rail Link. MTR Corporation. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Frequency and Capacity". MTR Corporation. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  8. ^ "立法会参考资料摘要:铁路发展策略" (PDF). Legislative Council of Hong Kong. 16 May 2000. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  9. ^ "广深港间拟建区域快线 可能采用磁悬浮列车". 新华网. 1 February 2002. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  10. ^ "High speed rail link project delayed". RTHK. 16 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Severely damaged TBM to delay Hong Kong XRL". Tunnellingjournal.com. 16 April 2014.
  12. ^ Benjamin Haas (in Seoul) (4 September 2018). "Hong Kong cedes part of rail station to China in secretive ceremony". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Mainland port area of cross-border express rail link terminus opens". Xinhua Net. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  14. ^ Hong Kong Airport
  15. ^ MTR Urban Lines Vision Train
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Redevelopment of Kowloon Station". HKU Scholars Hub.
  17. ^ a b Shing, Adrian (12 September 2012). "Predicting the Contact Wire Wear of a Railway System Using ANN". Rail Knowledge Bank. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Under the Wires to Lo Wu". The Railway Magazine. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  19. ^ "MTR Corporation Hong Kong, China Passenger Car". Kinki Sharyo. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  20. ^ Cheng, William (15 June 2014). "A Design Overview of Traction Power Supply System for the First High-speed Rail System in Hong Kong" (PDF). Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. Retrieved 28 February 2018.

External linksEdit