Hong Kong is already a Mecca for transit aficionados. It has 7 heavy rail lines that crisscross the territory plus an express rail link to the airport. There are four major bus companies that serve the majority of transit riders. There are ferries to all the outlying islands. All of these different forms of transit and these different private companies are unified by a single smart card payment system known as the Octopus card.
The current picture of transit in Hong Kong is already very impressive. Now even more major investments in the rapid transit network are underway. There are five major expansions which should all be in operation by 2015.
On Hong Kong Island, there are two major MTR (Mass Railway Transit) projects. One is the extension of the Island Line west via Hong Kong University to Kennedy Town. This a three-station extension through a fairly built up area of the island. The other project is a new South Island Line from Admiralty in central Hong Kong that will tunnel it’s way under the hills of the island to the communities in the south and the ever popular Ocean Park amusement park. The South Island line will add four new stops to the south side of Hong Kong Island.
On the Kowloon side, there’s a short two-station extension of the Kwun Tong line from it’s current terminus at Yau Ma Tei to Ho Man Tin and Whampoa.
Then there’s the Sha Tin Central Link (SCL) that will provide direct rail service from the New Territories to Hong Kong Island for the first time ever. This new line will have ten stations in total, six of which are all new. The SCL will connect to the East, West, and Ma On Shan Rail lines (all formerly KCR lines), as well as to the Kwun Tong and Island Lines. In terms of urban rapid transit, the SCL is the biggest of the rail projects.
However, there is one interurban rail project that could eclipse the SCL in importance. The planned Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail link would connect Hong Kong to China’s rapidly expanding high speed rail network. With respect to economics and tourism, this rail link could be a major boon to the territory.
So by 2015, Hong Kong will have completed all five of these major rail projects. For details on how Hong Kong and it’s MTR Corporation have managed these major projects, read up Yonah Freeman’s post at The Transport Politic.
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