One of the first things remarked on by travelers? Hong Kong’s hyper-efficient MTR. And as Hong Kong expands its network to the Southside and introduces new high-speed rails to China, it’s only going to get more impressive.
It’s been just over 105 years since the very first passenger train debuted in Hong Kong. Well, to be fair, the Peak Tram was actually the first mode of public transport in Hong Kong, opening in 1888. But the idea for a commuter train dates back to 1864 when Macdonald Stephenson, a British engineer, floated the proposal.
The plan got shelved, and didn’t come to fruition for another 30 years. At the end of the 1800s, England secured several railway contracts and started on a steam-powered rail link between Hong Kong and Guangdong. The East Rail Line was completed in 1910, connecting Hung Hom with Lo Wu at the Shenzhen checkpoint and Lok Ma Chau at the Futian checkpoint.
But even as China and Hong Kong became more connected, the intra-city system we know today still didn’t debut for another 70 years. On October 1, 1979, the first Light Rail Transit, aka the MTR, opened up. The original rail line was a 15-kilometer (9 mile) stretch from Shek Kip Mei to Kwun Tong, now part of the Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan lines.
A few months later, the line extended south to include Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Then in 1980, a game changer: the MTR harbor crossing opened up, connecting Tsuen Wan Line with what’s now Central station. Five years later, the Island Line opened up to offer service from Central to Chai Wan.
Today we have more than 150 stations that see 5 million trips a day, but it’s just getting started. In the coming years, get ready for the introduction of the South Island Line, a Northern Link extension of the Tseung Kwan O line, and even a Causeway Bay North station, for a Hong Kong that’s more connected than ever.