From Academic Kids

This article is about MTR as a metro system. For MTR as a Corporation, see MTR Corporation Limited.
For other meanings of the TLA "MTR", see MTR (disambiguation).
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Logo of the MTR corporation
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Carriage during the evening peak hour on the Template:Tung Chung Line.

MTR or Mass Transit Railway (地鐵; originally, 地下鐵路; or 地下鐵) is the main rapid transit railway system in Hong Kong. Since the MTR service first opened in 1979, the network has expanded to encompass seven lines and 53 stations. The MTR system is a very popular mode of public transport in Hong Kong, with an average of 2.45 million journeys recorded each day.

Much of this popularity is due to the efficiency and affordability of the MTR. For example, a taxi ride from Tsing Yi in the New Territories to Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island costs around HK$200, while the same trip on the MTR costs HK$11.8, and HK$5.7 on concessionary fare. The integration of the Octopus contactless smart card system into the MTR system in September 1997 has particularly enhanced the ease of use of the MTR.


The MTR network

Template:Kwun Tong Line
Between Yau Ma Tei and Tiu Keng Leng
Template:Tsuen Wan Line
Between Tsuen Wan and Central
Template:Island Line
Between Sheung Wan and Chai Wan
Template:Tung Chung Line
Between Tung Chung and Hong Kong
Template:Airport Express
Between AsiaWorld-Expo and Hong Kong
Template:Tseung Kwan O Line
Between Po Lam and North Point
Template:Disneyland Resort Line
Between Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort
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Current system map of the MTR. Note that The Disneyland Resort Line will not open until late Summer; AsiaWorld-Expo station of Airport Express will open late 2005.

History of the MTR

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Kwun Tong station on the Template:Kwun Tong Line. The train towards the right is a "K-stock".
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Tiu Keng Leng station, terminus of the Template:Kwun Tong Line.
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A train waiting to depart from Chai Wan station, terminus of the Template:Island Line.


Construction of the MTR was prompted by a government-commissioned study released in 1967. The government of Hong Kong commissioned the study in the 1960s to find solutions to the growing traffic problem caused by expansion of the colony's economy. Construction started soon after release of the study, and the first line was opened in 1979. The MTR was immediately popular with the residents of Hong Kong, and as a result subsequent lines have been built to cover more territory. There are continuing debates as to how and where to expand the MTR network. Several proposals have been put forward, but none have been agreed upon. The two most viable projects, the West Island Line and South Island Line, are still many years from completion.

In 2000, the government-owned MTR Corporation was partially privatised and renamed the MTR Corporation Limited. MTR Corporation has always been reliant on developing properties next to railway stations for its profits (although the rail lines are profitable themselves); many recently built stations are incorporated into large housing estates or shopping complexes. Examples of this type of construction can be seen at Tsing Yi station, which is built next to the Maritime Square shopping centre, and directly underneath the Tierra Verde housing estate.

Initial proposal

During the 1960s, the government of Hong Kong saw a need to accommodate increasing road traffic predicted for the future as Hong Kong's economy continued to grow strongly. British transport consultants Freeman, Fox, Wilbur Smith & Associates were appointed to study the transport system of Hong Kong. The consultants released the Hong Kong Mass Transport Study in September 1967, which proposed the construction of a mass transport underground railway system in Hong Kong.

In 1970, an underground network with four lines was laid out and planned as part of the British consultants' new report, Hong Kong Mass Transit: Further Studies. The four lines were to be the Kwun Tong Line, Tsuen Wan Line, Island Line, and East Kowloon Line. However, the lines that were eventually constructed were somewhat different compared with the lines that were originally proposed by the "Hong Kong Mass Transport Study" (a map showing the original lines to be constructed can be found here (

In 1972, the Hong Kong government authorised construction of the Initial System, a 20-kilometre system that roughly translates to the Kwun Tong Line today (except the line now extends to Tiu Keng Leng). Negotiations with four major construction consortia started in 1973. The government's intention was to tender the entire project, based on the British design, as a single tender at a fixed price. A consortium from Japan signed an agreement to construct the system in early 1974, but in December of the same year it pulled out from the agreement.

Modified Initial System

Several weeks later, in early 1975, a government agency known as the Mass Transport Provisional Authority was established to take charge of the project. It announced that the Initial System would be slightly reduced to 15.6 kilometres, and renamed it the Modified Initial System. Plans for a single contract were also abandoned in favour of 25 engineering contracts and 10 electrical and mechanical contracts.

In addition, the government-owned Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) was established to replace the Mass Transport Provisional Authority. (This was the company succeeded by the MTR Corporation Limited on 30 June 2000)

Construction of the Modified Initial System commenced in November 1975. After almost four years, the northern section was completed on 30 September 1979. On 1 October 1979, the northern section was opened, with trains running from Shek Kip Mei to Kwun Tong. The route from Tsim Sha Tsui to Shek Kip Mei was opened in December of the same year.

In 1980, the first harbour crossing was made by an MTR train as the Kwun Tong Line was extended even further to Chater station, now known as Central station. To deal with increasing patronage, trains were also extended to six cars.

Tsuen Wan Line

The government approved construction of the Template:Tsuen Wan Line in 1977, then known as Tsuen Wan Extension, and works commenced in November 1978. The project added a 10.5-kilometre section to the MTR system, from Prince Edward to Tsuen Wan. The line started service on 10 May 1982. Total cost of construction (not adjusted for inflation) was HK$4.1 billion.

When service of this line started, the section of the Kwun Tong Line from Chater to Argyle, present-day Mong Kok station, was transferred to the Tsuen Wan Line. Thus, Waterloo (Yau Ma Tei station) became the terminus of the Kwun Tong Line, and both Argyle and Prince Edward stations became interchange stations. This change was made because system planners expected traffic of the Tsuen Wan Line would exceed that of the Kwun Tong Line. This forecast was initially correct ; however, since the launch of the Tung Chung Line in 1998, much of the traffic northwest of Lai King towards Hong Kong Island has been diverted to the newer line.

Although land acquisitions were made for a station at Tsuen Wan West, the station was never built. The planned site is now partially occupied by the KCR West Rail, which bears a Tsuen Wan West station much closer to the coast.

Island Line

Government approvals were granted for construction of the Template:Island Line in December, 1980. Construction commenced in October, 1981. On 31 May 1985 the Island Line was opened with service between Admiralty and Chai Wan stations. Both Admiralty and Central stations became interchange stations with the Tsuen Wan Line. Furthermore, each train was extended to eight cars.

On 23 May 1986, service reached Sheung Wan station. Construction for this station was delayed for one year as government offices which sat on top of the station had to be removed to a new location before construction could start.

Eastern Harbour Tunnel extension

In 1984, the government approved the construction of the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, a tunnel to be used by cars and MTR trains. The Kwun Tong Line was extended across the harbour to Quarry Bay, which became an interchange station for the Kwun Tong Line and the Island Line. The extension was launched on 5 August 1989. An intermediate station, Lam Tin, started operations on 1 October 1989.

Airport Express and Tung Chung Line

The decision was made in October 1989 to construct a new international airport at Chek Lap Kok on Lantau Island to replace the overcrowded Kai Tak International Airport. The government invited the MTR to build a train line, then known as the Lantau Airport Railway, to the airport. But construction did not begin until the Chinese and British governments settled their financial and land disagreements in November 1994.

In the end, the new line was included in the financing plans of the new Hong Kong International Airport as the airport was not considered viable without direct public transport links. Construction costs were also shared by the MTR which was granted many large-scale developments in the construction plans for the new stations.

The Lantau Airport Railway turned into two MTR lines, the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express. The Template:Airport Express opened for service on 6 July 1998 along with the new Hong Kong International Airport. The Template:Tung Chung Line was officially opened on 21 June 1998 by Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, and service commenced the next day.

Quarry Bay Congestion Relief Works

The Quarry Bay Congestion Relief Works involved extending the Hong Kong Island end of the Kwun Tong Line from Quarry Bay to North Point via a 4.2 kilometres tunnel. The project was initiated due to overcrowding at Quarry Bay and persistent passenger complaints about the 5-minute walk from the Island Line station to the Kwun Tong Line station. Construction began in September 1997 and was completed in September 2001 at a cost of HK$3.0 billion.

Tseung Kwan O Line

Construction of the Template:Tseung Kwan O Line was approved on 18 August 1998 to serve new housing developments. Construction began on 24 April 1999 and the line officially opened in 2002. It took over the train tracks running through the Eastern Harbour Tunnel from the Kwun Tong Line, and ran from Po Lam to North Point. Subsequently, the Kwun Tong Line was diverted to Tiu Keng Leng on the new line. Cost of the new construction was partially paid for by the Government of Hong Kong, as well as private developers which linked construction of the Tseung Kwan O Line to new real estate and commercial developments, as previously under-developed areas were opened up for development with the increase in transportation options.

West Rail Interface Works

While the construction of the Tung Chung Line was still underway, the plan for building a railway corridor to serve the northwestern New Territories was conceived. Space has been reserved for the addition of an interchange station and two extra tracks (to allow non-stop service for the Airport Express) between Olympic and Lai King. Originally known as the Airport Railway Phase 2, the contracts of the West Rail Interface Works were awarded shortly after construction works of the West Rail commenced. The project comprised Mei Foo Interchange (modification of the existing Mei Foo station on the Tsuen Wan Line to provide a pedestrian link to the West Rail Mei Foo station; Nam Cheong Station (an interchange station on the Tung Chung Line, jointly operated by the MTRC and KCRC) and 4-Tracking Works (the additional two tracks, 4 km in length, allow the Tung Chung Line trains to stop at Nam Cheong without obstructing the passage of Airport Express trains).

The Works were completed in stages. The Tung Chung Line trains have been running on the new track since mid May 2003, whereas the Mei Foo station interchange subway and the Nam Cheong station were opened at the same time the West Rail opened for public use in December 2003.

Privatisation of MTR

Main article: MTR Corporation Limited

On 5 October 2000, the MTR became Hong Kong's first privatised rail/metro company, which marked the start of the Hong Kong government's planned initiative to wind down its interests in various public utilities. Prior to its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the MTR was wholly owned by the Hong Kong Government. The offering involved the sale of around one billion shares, and the MTR now has the largest shareholder base of any company listed in Hong Kong. In June, 2001, MTR was transferred to Hang Seng Index.

At the time of the initial public offering, the MTR was operating with a budget surplus of HK$360 million, which had increased from a surplus of HK$278 million in 1997. However, after the IPO profits decreased as the MTR lost much of its subsidies from the government, dropping to HK$139 million. Yet, this trend seems to have reversed, as profits grew more than ten-fold in the fourth quarter of 2004, making the MTR one of the few profitable public transport systems in the world.

Safety on the MTR



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Platform screen doors on the Template:Kwun Tong Line at Tiu Keng Leng.

Various campaigns and activities are taken to help ensure that the MTR is a safe system to travel on. Poster campaigns displaying information on topics such as escalator safety are a common sight in all MTR stations, and announcements are made regularly as safety reminders to travelling passengers.

Bylaws have been recently introduced to deter potentially dangerous actions on the MTR, such as the ban of flammable goods on the MTR and rushing into trains when the doors are closing. Penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment have been imposed for such offenses. Metal balloons are also banned due to a previous incident on KCR where a metal balloon interfered with the operation of the overhead power lines.

Tung Chung Line, the Airport Express and Tseung Kwan O Line, except Quarry Bay station, have platform screen doors (PSDs) installed upon construction. These doors prevent people from falling onto the rails; and have the additional benefit of separating the stations from the tunnels, hence allowing substantial energy savings on station air-conditioning and tunnel ventilation. Automatic platform gates have also been installed at the soon-opening Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort station. Their heights are half of those PSDs and only prevent people from falling onto the rails.

In June 2000, The MTR Corporation proceeded with its plans to retrofit 2,960 pairs of platform screen doors at 30 underground stations on the Kwun Tong Line, Tsuen Wan Line, and Island Line in a six year programme. The programme made MTR the world's first railway to undertake the retrofitting of PSDs on a passenger-carrying system already in operation. A prototype design was first introduced at the Choi Hung station on 3rd quarter 2001. HK$0.10 per passenger trip were levied on Octopus card users to help fund the HK$2 billion retrofit programme.

Three stations are still awaiting installation under the programme, namely Tin Hau, Shau Kei Wan and Lam Tin. The programme is scheduled to be completed by 2006. The MTR Corporation said that part of the cost has to be assumed by passengers.

Station facilities, amenities and services

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Easy access facilities of an MTR station, elevator and extra wide entry/exit gates.
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A young man talking on phone inside a carriage.
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Hong Kong station on the Template:Airport Express at IFC. Flight passengers can have their in-town check-in here.

With the high level of daily passenger traffic, facilities of MTR stations are built with durability and accessibility in mind. The elevators and escalators in stations are heavy duty, installed by Otis Elevator Company/Fujitec and Constructions Industrielles de la Mediterrane/Otis Elevator Company respectively.

The MTR system in general is disabled-friendly — the trains have dedicated wheelchair space, the stations have special floor tiles to guide the blind safely on the platforms, and there are extra wide entry/exit gates for wheelchairs to pass through.

Unlike many other metro systems around the world, "main line" MTR stations do not have toilet facilities. Only stations on the Airport Express and Disneyland Resort Line have access to toilet facilities.

Telecommunications network coverage

A full GSM (GSM-900 and GSM-1800), CDMA and TDMA mobile phone network is in place through out the MTR system of stations and tunnels. Passengers can stay connected for the duration of their trips underground.

Currently, 3 Hong Kong is expanding its 3G mobile coverage to all stations and tunnels for the MTR system. Full 3G network coverage is expected to be completed by August 2005. Passengers with subscription services will be able to make video calls and access high speed video content on their mobile phones regardless whether the train is above ground or under ground.

Shops and other services

Until recently, MTR stations only had branches of the Hang Seng Bank and Maxim's Cakes stores, owned by Jardine Matheson. Since the privatisation of the MTR, however, numerous shops have been added to certain stations, turning them into miniature shopping centres. Services available at most stations include:

Apart from retailers, there are also dentists and medical clinics, drycleaners, and florists along the Tseung Kwan O Line. Standard services include payphones, vending machines (Coca-Cola only), and self-service photo-booths.


Main article: Metropolis Daily

As of 2005, three free newspapers are given away inside MTR stations: the Metropolis Daily, published by Metro International; the entertainment magazine Hui Kai Guide (去街 Guide); and the recruitment newspaper Jiu Jik (招職), published by South China Morning Post.

Airport Express

Main article: Airport Express

The Airport Express also offers value-added services to travellers on the line. Toilets and check-in facilities are avaliable at every station on the line. A free Airport Express shuttle bus service transports travellers from stations to their respective hotels as well. Flight passengers would even have in-town check-in at the station, which offers a more convenient and time-saving routine.

Fares & tickets

As of January 2005, there are two different fare classes on the MTR: Adult and concessionary. Only children below the age of 12, senior citizens 65 years or older, or full-time Hong Kong students between the ages of 12 and 25 qualify for the concessionary rate. Children below the age of 3 travel free.

Unlike some metro systems, where a flat fare is paid no matter the distance travelled, there is an additional surcharge for every station between the initial station and destination station. Adult fares range from HK$4 to $26. Concessionary fares are usually half the adult fare, and range from HK$3 to $13.

Single journey ticket

The magnetic fare card system is used for single journey tickets. These tickets are pre-paid for between pre-determined stations, and are good for only one trip. There are no return tickets, except on the Airport Express.

Octopus cards

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Obverse side of a standard adult card.
Main article: Octopus card

The Octopus card is a rechargeable contactless smart card used in an electronic payment system in Hong Kong. It was launched in September 1997 for use on both the MTR and the KCR and now is the most widely used electronic cash system for transactions in Hong Kong.

The Octopus card uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology so that users need only hold the card in close proximity of the reader. Physical contact is not required. The Octopus card has been so popular that many cities such as Singapore, London, and Taipei have adopted the idea, launching their own version of smart cards, respectively named EZ-link, Oyster card, and EasyCard.

Except for the Airport Express, MTR fares are slightly cheaper when using an Octopus card compared to using single journey tickets. For example, the cost of the 3-minute journey from Admiralty to Tsim Sha Tsui is (as of 2005) HK$7.9 using the Octopus card, compared with HK$9.0 for a single-journey ticket.

Tourist pass

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A special single journey ticket (magnetic farecard) for the Template:Airport Express, released in late 2004.

Two types of tourist passes are available: one allows unlimited rides for a single day (at HK$50), while the other allows three days of unlimited rides on the MTR, with a stored value of HK$20, refundable deposit of HK$50 and choice of either a single (HK$220) or return (HK$300) trip on the Airport Express.

Tourists are required to produce proof of tourist status, (e.g. passports or, in the case of Mainland travellers, entry permits) when purchasing the pass, and whenever requested by a ticket inspector during spot-checks.

Airport Express fares

Fares for the Airport Express are substantially different from main line fares. Apart from single tickets, same-day return tickets (same price as a single), and one-month return tickets are also available. Discounts are available for tickets bought as a Group for travel.

As of January 2005, a trip on the Airport Express from Hong Kong station to the Airport station costs HK$100, $50 concessionary rate. The rate for a one-month return ticket is HK$180.

MTR rolling stock

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Interior of a Template:Tung Chung Line train, built jointly by Adtranz (now Bombardier Transportations) and CAF.
Main Article: Trains on the MTR

Four variations of rolling stock operate on the MTR on 1.5kV overhead electrification. All trains are electric multiple units (EMUs), equipped with ATC and ATP, operating on 1432mm rail gauge.

Except for the rolling stock of the Airport Express, all trains are designed with features to cope with high density passenger traffic on stopping services. Examples are the latitudinal seating arrangement, additional ventilation fans and 5 doors on each side per car.

The Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express use trains that are dedicated specifically to their respective lines. These two variations are built jointly by Adtranz (now Bombardier Transportations) and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles.

The other lines are operated using a mixture of the other two variations, known as the "M-Train" and the "K-Stock". The "M-Stock" (or CM-Stock") of "M-Train" are the oldest trains on the MTR, built originally by Metro Cammell and refurbished by United Goninan. The "M-Train" is the only variation that uses sliding doors, as opposed to others which use plug-doors. The "K-Stock" are built jointly by Mitsubishi and ROTEM.

The Disneyland Resort Line will use "M-Trains" but with their appearance overhauled to suit the atmosphere and theme of the line. Windows on each carriage and the handrails inside will be made into the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, and there will be bronze-made Disney characters decorating the interior of the carriages.


Depots are located at Kowloon Bay (for Kwun Tong Line), Tsuen Wan (for the Tsuen Wan Line), Heng Fa Chuen (for the Island Line), and Dream City (for the Tseung Kwan O Line). Tung Chung Line, Airport Express, and Disneyland Resort Line trains are serviced at Siu Ho Wan near Sunny Bay.

Future expansion

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Converted carriages in preparation for the Template:Disneyland Resort Line. The background shows the Siu Ho Wan train depot.

Disneyland Resort Line

Main article: Disneyland Resort Line

Construction has been finished on the Template:Disneyland Resort Line, previously known as Penny's Bay Rail Link. Hong Kong Disneyland is scheduled to open on 12 September 2005. Service to Sunny Bay station on the Tung Chung Line started on 1 June 2005. The new line and Disneyland Resort station open for service in late Summer.

This 3.5 kilometre single-track railway is an extension of the Tung Chung Line. It will run between the new Sunny Bay station to Hong Kong Disneyland, where a new station designed to have a resort ambiance will be built. According to MTR Corporation Limited, the line will initially operate four-car trains (each car accommodating up to 180 passengers) running every four to ten minutes. Provisions have been made to make future expansion to use eight-car trains possible. In addition, these carriages will be converted from the existing rolling stock to suit the recreational and adventurous nature of the 3.5 minute journey.

AsiaWorld-Expo Station

The new AsiaWorld-Expo station is an extension of the Airport Express to serve the new international exhibition centre, known as the AsiaWorld-Expo at Hong Kong International Airport. It is commissioned to be completed by December 2005 to meet the opening of the exhibition centre by the end of 2005.

West Island Line and South Island Line

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Alignment of the latest scheme (February 2005) of West Island Line and South Island Line.
Main Article: West Island Line and South Island Line

On 21 January 2003, the Executive Council of Hong Kong granted MTR Corporation Limited permission to proceed with further planning on two proposed lines: West Island Line and South Island Line. These new lines are suggested in the Second Railway Development Study (RDS-2) ( to provide direct linkage between the populated areas of Wah Fu and Ap Lei Chau in Southern District, and the CBD of Hong Kong.

Three proposals have been submitted in the past to address the drawbacks of subsequent plans. In this planning stage feasibility study was conducted to optimize the new lines in terms of cost-effectiveness, external benefits and the effect on other modes of transport. The plan was eventually turned down by the government to favour the construction of highways in late March 2004.

MTR gave a fourth try in February 2005. It consists of West Island Line, an extension of Island Line to Kennedy Town, and the two sections of South Island Line. The legislative counsellors support an earlier completion of West Island Line.


The MTR Corporation is planning to outsource its services centres of 14 stations on the Island Line. Around 100 employees will be arranged to work at the Disneyland Resort Line and the AsiaWorld-Expo station. Services centres on the new stations of Tseung Kwan O Line are already outsourced when it started its service.

See also




  • Freeman, Fox, Wilbur Smith & Associates (1967). Hong Kong Mass Transport Study.
  • Freeman, Fox, Wilbur Smith & Associates (1970). Hong Kong Mass Transport Further Study.
  • Lpez, M.J.J. (1996). Crime Prevention Guidelines for the Construction & Management of Metro Systems. Den Haag: RCM-advies, pg. 32-35.
  • MTR Corporation (2000). Propaganda material on Platform Screen Door retrofit Programme

Government Papers

Mass Media


External links

MTR service

Related products

MTR property management

Corporate information

Audio recordings

Future Expansion

Template:MTR Template:MTRStations de:Mass_Transit_Railway fr:Mtro de Hong Kong ja:MTR (地下鉄) zh:香港地鐵


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