East Rail Line: Wikis


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East Rail Line

An SP1900 EMU train departing Tai Wai Station
East Rail Line.svg
No. of stations 14
Type Heavy rail
Districts Yau Tsim Mong, Kowloon City, Sha Tin, Tai Po, North, Yuen Long
Opened 1910
Voltage AC 25000 V, 50 Hz
Gauge 1435 mm
Continuation backward
 Guangshen railway Arrow Blue Up 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "utCONTg" Straight track
 Shenzhen Metro Line 4 Arrow Blue Up 001.svg
Urban tunnel straight track Straight track Unknown route-map component "utCONTg"
 Shenzhen Metro Line 1 Arrow Blue Up 001.svg
Urban tunnel straight track Straight track
Unknown route-map component "utKBFe" + Hub
Luohu (Shenzhen Metro Line 1)
Unknown route-map component "utKBFe" + Hub
Straight track Unknown route-map component "HUB26"
Futiankouan (Shenzhen Metro Line 4)
Restricted border + Unknown route-map component "HUB26"
Unknown route-map component "GRENZE+WBRÜCKE"
Restricted border + Unknown route-map component "HUB26"
Hong Kong / China border
Unknown route-map component "KBFa-ELEV" + Hub
Straight track Unknown route-map component "HUB26"
Lok Ma Chau
Station on track + Hub
Lo Wu
Unknown route-map component "eBHF-ELEV" Junction to left Track turning from right
Chau Tau
Unknown route-map component "TUNNELa-ELEV" Straight track Non-passenger station on track
Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse
Unknown route-map component "etBHF" Junction from left Track turning right
Kwu Tung
Exit tunnel Straight track
Unknown route-map component "BS2lg" Unknown route-map component "BS2rg"
Station on track
Sheung Shui
Station on track
Straight track
Station on track
Tai Wo
Unknown route-map component "eABZrg" Unknown route-map component "exKBHFr" Steam train
Hong Kong Railway Museum
Station on track
Tai Po Market
Enter and exit short tunnel
Tunnel No.5
Unknown route-map component "eBHF"
Science Park
Station on track
Junction to left Unknown route-map component "ABZ3lg" Track turning from right
Straight track Straight track Station on track
Racecourse (Racing days only)
Track turning from left Junction to right Non-passenger station on track Straight track
Ho Tung Lau Depot
Non-passenger end station Straight track Straight track Straight track
Fo Tan Goods Yard
Station on track Straight track Straight track
Fo Tan
Junction from left Unknown route-map component "ABZ3rf" Track turning right
Station on track
Sha Tin
Straight track Track turning from left Continuation to left
 Ma On Shan Line Arrow Blue Right 001.svg
Right side of cross-platform interchange Unknown route-map component "xCPICre"
Tai Wai (Ma On Shan Line)
Enter tunnel Unknown route-map component "exCONTf"
 Sha Tin to Central Link Arrow Blue Down 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "tSTR"
Beacon Hill Tunnel (Tunnel No. 2)
Exit tunnel
Station on track + Hub
+ Hub
Kowloon Tong (Kwun Tong Line)
Unknown route-map component "CHRISBOT" Unknown route-map component "KRZt"
Unknown route-map component "tBHFq" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "CHRISBOT2"
Arrow Blue Left 001.svg Kwun Tong Line Arrow Blue Right 001.svg
Station on track
Mong Kok East
Unknown route-map component "eABZlf" Unknown route-map component "exSTRlg"
Straight track Unknown route-map component "exTUNNELa"
Enter and exit short tunnel Unknown route-map component "extSTR"
Tunnel No. 1A
Unknown route-map component "tCPICla" + Hub
Left side end station of cross-platform interchange + Hub
Unknown route-map component "extBHF" + Hub
Express railway
Hung Hom (Through Train terminus)
Unknown route-map component "tCONTf" Unknown route-map component "extSTR"
 West Rail Line Arrow Blue Down 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "extWSTR"
Victoria Harbor
Unknown route-map component "tCONTg" Unknown route-map component "extBHF"
Exhibition  Tsuen Wan Line Arrow Blue Up 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "tSTR" Unknown route-map component "tSTRrg" Unknown route-map component "xtKRZt" Unknown route-map component "CHRISBOT2"
 Island Line Arrow Blue Right 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "tCPICl" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "tCPICr" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "extKBHFe" + Hub
Admiralty (Tsuen Wan Line,
Unknown route-map component "tSTR" Unknown route-map component "tSTR"
Island Line)
Unknown route-map component "tSTR" Unknown route-map component "tCONTf"
 Island Line Arrow Blue Down 001.svg
Unknown route-map component "tCONTf"
 Tsuen Wan Line Arrow Blue Down 001.svg
East Rail Line
Traditional Chinese 東鐵綫
Simplified Chinese 东铁线
Interior of a refurbished Metro Cammell EMU
First class compartment (Metro Cammell EMU) on board the East Rail Line. Passengers travelling on 1st class pay double the normal fare
Hung Hom Station concourse

The East Rail Line (Chinese: 東鐵綫) is one of the ten railway lines of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system in Hong Kong. It used to be one of the three lines of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) network. It was known as the KCR British Section (九廣鐵路英段) from 1910 to 1996, and the KCR East Rail (九廣東鐵) from 1996 to 2007.

The railway line starts at Hung Hom Station in Kowloon and branches in the north at Sheung Shui to terminate at Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau stations. Both are boundary crossing points into Shenzhen. The route was the only railway line of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) before the construction of KCR West Rail (now known as West Rail Line). After the opening of the KCR West Rail, the original KCR British Section was renamed KCR East Rail (East Rail Line) to avoid confusion.

The same railway is used for passenger and freight services crossing the boundary to other cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. These longer distance passenger services (dubbed "Through Trains") start at Hung Hom and end at their terminuses in the mainland. The line is generally double tracked and electrified, except for certain goods sheds. Immigration and customs facilities are available at Hung Hom (for Through Train passengers) and Lo Wu/Lok Ma Chau (for border interchange passengers) stations.

The railway line was operated by Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) prior to the MTR-KCR merger and has since been taken over by MTR Corporation on 2 December 2007 after the merger was completed.

The line is coloured light blue on the MTR map. The distance between Hung Hom and Lo Wu stations is 34 km.[1]




Pre-electrification era

The construction of East Rail, now East Rail Line started in 1910, then as the Kowloon-Canton Railway. The section of the railway located in Hong Kong was referred to as the "British Section", while the remaining route to Canton (now Guangzhou) was called the "Chinese Section", now the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway. Initially, service was only from Yau Ma Tei station to Fanling station with a tunnel through Beacon Hill.

After the "Chinese Section" was completed, through train service became available to Canton, through Sham Chun (now Shenzhen). Lo Wu station also serves as a border crossing, with a bridge across the Sham Chun River, the natural border between Hong Kong and China. Trains had to stop at Lo Wu station after Communist China closed the border and suspended the through train service in 1949.

The line was generally single track, with a passing loop at each station.

The line was originally built with narrow gauge tracks, but just before opening standard gauge track was laid and the original tracks were used to build a branch line, the Sha Tau Kok Railway from Fanling to Sha Tau Kok. This branch was unsuccessful and closed on 1 April 1928 following the opening of a road that ran parallel to the tracks.

Through the years, more stations continued to be added to the line. Sheung Shui station was opened in the 1930s, and Ma Liu Shui (now University) station opened in 1955.

The development of the towns along the line began to grow immensely during the 1970s, prompting a redevelopment of the Kowloon-Canton Railway. The original Kowloon station terminus at Tsim Sha Tsui was too small and had no room for expansion, so a new terminus site was chosen in Hung Hom, then known as Kowloon station. The new Kowloon station replaced the old one in 1974. Today, the clock tower is the only structure left from the old terminus, and is a landmark near the Cultural Centre, Space Museum and the Star Ferry pier. Some six pillars were relocated to the Urban Council Centennial Park in TST East. A big bell is stored at Ho Tung Lau. The original Hung Hom station at Chatham Road South was also demolished.

Post-1980s modernisation

The line was entirely duplicated and electrified. This work involved building a new tunnel through Beacon Hill and providing an interchange with the original MTR network. The development finished in sections between 1982 and 1983, with new electric multiple units replacing diesel locomotives. During the electrification, more stations were added to the line.

The 1990s saw rapid development and changes within the railway. In 1996, the first refurbished Metro Cammell EMU was put into service, and trains now allow passengers to traverse from one end to another (except for the first class car), when trains once ran on four three-car EMUs. 348 of the 351 railcars were refurbished except for unit E44 (144-244-444), of which #144 was preserved at the Hong Kong Railway Museum. Each trainset is still made up of 12 cars (with one first-class car). Prior to the rule proclaimed in 1994 which fixed the number of cars on each trainset to 12, trains were inconsistent in terms of length, ranging from six cars (two EMUs), nine cars (three EMUs) to 12 cars (four EMUs).

In addition, trains no longer have the monotonous design of having a red stripe running across the middle from the cab to the end; the doors now have a red coating, and the window panes along with the upper part are fashioned with blue paint. The design of the front – which encapsulates the driver's cab – is commonly referred to as the "Yellow-cab". It was given a modern appearance, capped with a silver coating, and digital display provided information for the train's destination.

The design of the EMU was modified as well: four more sets of doors being added to each car, adding up to a total of ten sets of doors, each side with five; the introduction of new passenger information plasma display; and more standing space by rearranging seating patterns from the traditional back-to-back seating to a latitudinal design. The KCRC had signed a contract with giant French manufacturer GEC-Alstom to be in charge of the refurbishment taking place at its depot at Ho Tung Lau.

Recent developments

  • In 1998, KCRC relocated its control centre from Kowloon Station, and a new signalling and control system was completed to allow more trains to operate with reduced headways.
  • On 28 December 2004 a branch to the East Rail, the Ma On Shan Rail was added, with an interchange at Tai Wai.


Tunnels on the East Rail Line have numbers assigned to them. When the railway was first opened, there were five tunnels: [2]

  1. North of today's Mong Kok East Station
  2. Beacon Hill Tunnel
  3. South of where University Station stands today
  4. North of the station
  5. At Tai Po Kau

During the construction of the Cross Harbour Tunnel, which opened in 1972, the section of tracks near Oi Man Estate, Ho Man Tin was covered to construct the section of Princess Margaret Road connecting to the Cross Harbour Tunnel. A new tunnel was therefore created and given the number 1A.

During the modernization of the line in the early 1980s, Tunnels 1, 3, 4 were removed by demolishing the mounds above them. Tunnel 1A already had double track width when built; a completely new Beacon Hill Tunnel (Tunnel 2) was constructed and took over the original one; and Tunnel 5 was doubled. There was also a tunnel built underneath Salisbury Road after East Tsim Sha Tsui Station has been constructed.

Rolling stock

Currently there are two types of commuter trains running on the East Rail Line. 29 sets of the forementioned Metro Cammell EMU. In 2003 they are joined with 8 sets of SP1900 EMU trains, manufactured by the Japan-based Kinki Sharyo Co., Ltd.. Both models share same exterior color scheme, train doors arrangement (5-pair per car) and maximum speed, as well as consisting of 12 carriages per train. All of the East Rail Line trains are being maintained at Ho Tung Lau Depot in Sha Tin District.

First class compartment

East Rail Line is the only remaining railway in Hong Kong offers first-class commuter service. One of the 12 cars of each train is furbished as the first-class carriage. These compartments have softer and wider seat arrangements; however, standing in the first class car is common during rush hour.

Riding on this carriage costs twice that of a standard-class journey and passengers are required to buy the first class ticket (at the vending machine on East Rail line stations or ticket counters at the other stations) or second check their Octopus cards on the first class reader (located at the station platforms and beside the gangway door of the First class compartment itself) before entering the first-class car. Ticket Inspectors will perform random checks on train, and failing to produce a valid first class ticket or valiated Octopus Card will be liable to a surcharge of HK$500.[3]

1 Hong Kong Tramways was once providing first class compartment trailers. They were withdrawn at the end of 1982 for good.

Safety problems

The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau reprimanded the KCRC for not immediately notifying the Government when it found problems with its East Rail trains in 2005. Secretary for the Bureau Dr Sarah Liao said she has ordered the KCRC to inspect all its trains, and did not rule out suspending services if there are safety doubts.

Dr Liao ordered the chairman to review the corporation's operations, including its management and overall system, and submit a report. KCRC Chairman Michael Tien accepted responsibility for the corporation's poor judgement in not sharing the information with the public in a timely matter.

On 21 January 2006, Michael Tien stated that the safety problems of East Rail had been controlled, and the train service was expected to operate as usual, including train service in the Chinese New Year.

Train accidents

On 25 November 1984, a train derailed between Sheung Shui and Lo Wu station. The incident occurred when the driver, preparing to back the train up to Sheung Shui station, failed to follow a speed/stop signal while the train was exceeding the speed limit. The train crashed into a boulder buffer with the first two cars piling on top of each other. The degree of damage was so extensive that the cars never returned to service. Passengers were unloaded prior to the crash while the driver sustained only minor injuries. However, the accident caused train services to be suspended for the rest of the day and the incident spurred a series of public outcries concerning railway safety.


KCRC switched from ATO to manual control (under protection of ATP system) on 15 January 2006 to reduce stress on trains until a permanent solution is found. This resulted in a decreased frequency (from 24 to 21 trains per hour) and lengthened trip time (increase by 90 seconds to 42.5 minutes). KCRC also temporarily transferred some staff from West Rail Line to cope with recent maintenance of trains.

A "Mind the gap" sticker

Platform gaps

The platform gap at several stations (Lo Wu, Tai Wo, University, Kowloon Tong, Mong Kok East, and East Tsim Sha Tsui) may be a safety concern.[citation needed] The KCRC has visually marked the "Gap Black Spots" on the platforms of those stations and stated that plates will be installed in the gap between the train and station. The platform gap is mainly caused by the curvature of the station and how the train enters the station area. A mechanical gap filler system, which extends the platform edge when a train is stopped at the station, has been authorized at Lo Wu station on a trial basis.[4]


With the exception of Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hung Hom and Mong Kok East, all the station platforms on East Rail Line, are on/above ground and open air. In May, 2008, MTR announced plans to renew these stations, most of which have been in service for over half a century. Refurbishment is not expected to be fully completed until 2016 at the earliest.[5] The stations providing local commuter service on this line are listed blow:

Livery and Name District Connections Opened
East Rail Line
Hung Hom
formerly Kowloon
Yau Tsim Mong/
Kowloon City
     West Rail Line
Intercity services outside of Hong Kong.
November 30, 1974
Mong Kok East
formerly Yau Ma Tei,
Mong Kok
Nil 1 opened 1910,
relocated 1968
Kowloon Tong Sham Shui Po/
Kowloon City
     Kwun Tong Line May 4, 1982
Tai Wai Sha Tin      Ma On Shan Line August 15, 1983
Sha Tin   October 1, 1910
Fo Tan2 February 15, 1985
Racecourse2 October 1, 1983
formerly Ma Liu Shui
September 24, 1956
- Science Park*
Tai Po
Tai Po Market opened 1910,
relocated 1983
Tai Wo May 9, 1989
Fanling North October 1, 1910
Sheung Shui 1930
Lo Wu Luohu Station for Line 1 of the Shenzhen Metro
(through border check)
October 14, 1949
- Kwu Tung^3  
- Chau Tau^3 Northern Link 2013
Yuen Long
Lok Ma Chau3 Futiankouan Station for Line 4 of the Shenzhen Metro
(through border check)
August 15, 2007

* Proposed
# Under construction
^ Planning in progress

1 Mong Kok East Station and Mong Kok Station (     Tsuen Wan Line and      Kwun Tong Line), are not interconnected stations. There is pedestrian transfer by a footbridge, the journey time is approx. 10-15 minutes on foot.

2 Fo Tan and Racecourse are parallel stations. Racecourse Station is only open when horseracing or a special event is held at Sha Tin Racecourse.

3 Kwu Tung, Chau Tau and Lok Ma Chau are stations on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, a branch from Sheung Shui Station of the      East Rail Line, with solely the latter constructed.

Future development

The Northern Link will go from Kam Sheung Road Station to Lok Ma Chau Station, and to Sheung Shui Station via Chau Tau Station.

In the latest Sha Tin to Central Link proposal, the East Rail Line will extend southwards across the Victoria Harbour, and have two more stations on Hong Kong Island: Exhibition and Admiralty.


  1. ^ Centamap
  2. ^ (in Chinese) 鐵路知識問與答99題. SoftRepublic. 2008-07-31. p. 193. ISBN 978-988-17158-4-5. 
  3. ^ Travelling First Class, MTR official site
  4. ^ Council Panel on Transport Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, April 2007
  5. ^ Press Release 0848 MTR Corporation (Chinese)

External links


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