Modern Rails in China
|The words "modern" and
"China" are not frequently associated. Times are
changing. Steam engines are being replaced by modern high
speed electric trains. Southern China is packed with high-tech
industry. Cheap labor is in abundance. Transit is needed to
move the workers, and the Chinese government is aware of that.
Hong Kong has perhaps the best transit system of any city in
the world. Here are a few photos from that region.
You can click on the thumbnails to download the
Riding the Hong Kong MTR late at
night. During rush hour, people are crammed in like
sardines as the system carries 2.2 million passengers
An old diesel heads north to
Guangzhou (Canton) on the KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway)
in mainland China. They weren't happy about my camera
and prevented me from taking pictures in the station in
This is probably the busiest
double-track railroad in the world, handling freight
business to and from Hong Kong, through passenger trains
and commuter trains that carry over 800,000 passengers a
A modern MTR subway train arrives in
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was no
Train arrivals are displayed on boards
that indicate the destination and time until the next
train arrives. Over 2.2 million passengers ride the system
Inside an MTR train late at night.
There are no vestibule doors, only end doors opposite
ends of the train. Most people stand on the train. They
are air-conditioned and comfortable and have animated
signs that show your location and destination and which
side the doors will open. Signs on the platform indicate
when the next train will arrive.
A northbound KCR train arrives at
Kowloon Tong, the Hong Kong equivalent of 125st. There
are no subway stations at the southern terminal of Hung
Hom in Kowloon, but you can ride a Star Ferry from there
to Hong Kong, or catch a bus. Because of the subway
connection, Kowloon Tong is a very busy station. Just
like cars in Hong Kong, traffic runs left-handed on the
Commuter trains arrive and depart Sha
Tin simultaneously. This happens frequently as commuter
service is provided at 3 minute intervals during rush
hour. That's how they carry 800,000 passengers on a two
track line. The most common cause for delay is suicides.
With the poor economy in Asia, it happens more
frequently than they would like.
A modern bi-level car on the
Canton-Kowloon Express. This train operated at speeds in
excess of 100 mph and provided business-class seating on
the upper deck. When I attempted to get a picture of the
front of the train, I was stopped by a customs agent who
checked my passport and directed me to board the train.
I didn't argue, he had a gun.
The Peak Tram is one of the steepest
rail lines in the world. It climbs Victoria Peak from
Central Hong Kong. Because the grade differs on the
trip, the seats are level. When the climb is steep, you
are pinned against your seat.
During rush hours, the tram makes
intermediate stops on The Peak for wealthy residents who
live on some of the most expensive real estate in the
courtesy of The Virtual Tourist.
No it's not a train, but it carries
many passengers. The Star Ferry operates between Kowloon
and Hong Kong Island with almost continuous departures.
It costs $1.7 HK, or about 23 cents to ride the lower
deck, or $2.2 HK on the upper deck (about 28 cents US).
It's the best bargain in the world. Photo is courtesy
of the Hong Kong Tourist Association.
Some interesting Hong Kong links:
The MTR Transit
system (Hong Kong Subway) The
KCR Rail Line (Commuter Rail)*
*In 2007, the MTR and KCR were merged into one
The Big White
Guy (a Canadian living in Hong Kong, web journal
and lots of photos)
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November 10, 2010