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West Rail line

West Rail line
A West Rail line IKK train arriving at Kam Sheung Road station in June 2008
StatusCeased operation (27 June 2021)
LocaleDistricts: Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Kwai Tsing (no station), Tsuen Wan, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun
Continues asTuen Ma line
Former connections
Color on map     Magenta (#A3238F)
TypeRapid Transit
Depot(s)Pat Heung
Rolling stockSP1900/1950 EMU
Tuen Ma Line C-train
Ridership442,600 weekday average
(Sept to Oct 2014)[1]
Opened20 December 2003; 20 years ago (2003-12-20)
Closed27 June 2021; 2 years ago (2021-06-27) (merged with the Ma On Shan line to form the Tuen Ma line)
Line length35.7 km (22.2 mi)[2]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz AC (Overhead lines)
Operating speed130 km/h (81 mph)
Route map

Tuen Mun     
Siu Hong     
Tin Shui Wai     
Long Ping
Yuen Long     
Kam Sheung Road
Pat Heung Depot
Tsuen Wan West
Mei Foo     
Nam Cheong     
East Tsim Sha Tsui
Hung Hom     
Rail transport in Hong Kong#Cross-border services
West Rail line
Traditional Chinese西鐵綫
Simplified Chinese西铁线
Literal meaningWest Rail line
Long Ping station platform in December 2008
West Rail line Pat Heung Section in November 2009
Appearance of Tsuen Wan West station in January 2010
Hung Hom station Platform 2 in April 2014

The West Rail line (Chinese: 西鐵綫) was a rapid transit line that formed part of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system in Hong Kong until 27 June 2021. Coloured magenta on the MTR map, the line ran from Tuen Mun to Hung Hom, with a total length of 35.7 kilometres (22.2 mi), in 37 minutes.[3] The railway connected the urban area of Kowloon and the new towns of Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun in the northwestern New Territories.

The line was the second of three lines built and operated by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC), then known as the KCR West Rail (九廣西鐵). It was designed to suburban rail standards similar to that of KCR's first line, now the East Rail line, anticipating freight[4] and intercity services to Mainland China,[5] although the latter role was ultimately superseded by the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link Hong Kong section as part of the China Railway High-speed network.

After KCRC's merger of operations with the MTR Corporation on 2 December 2007,[6] the West Rail line was operated as part of the MTR network. Along with the Ma On Shan line, the line was integrated into the Tuen Ma line in June 2021 upon the completion of Phase 1 of the Sha Tin to Central Link.



A railway to the northwestern New Territories from the urban area in Kowloon was recommended as early as 1978 in a Tuen Mun Transport Study by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partner;[7] by the early 1990s, the surge of commuter towns in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun had frequently brought road networks to a standstill, as urban populations spilled over to the bedroom communities while keeping their jobs in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

The 1994 Hong Kong Government Railway Development Strategy report envisaged a domestic passenger service between the Northwestern New Territories (NWNT) and urban Kowloon, a cross-boundary passenger service for passengers travelling between Hong Kong and Mainland China, and container freight transport between ports in Mainland China and Hong Kong.[8]

In January 1995, the Government invited the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) to submit a proposal for the design, construction and operation of the proposed Western Corridor Railway. KCRC submitted a full proposal in November 1995, as did MTRC; twelve months later, the Government adopted KCRC's proposal.[8] Tuen Mun residents clamoured for a direct connection (or failing that, a costly alternative coastal alignment), and the terminus was duly extended along Tuen Mun Nullah. Along with the Light Rail network, which was reconfigured as a feeder system, the new railway was designed to serve 1.08 million residents in northwestern New Territories, 25% of whom lived within walking distance to stations compared to 80% along the Tseung Kwan O line.[9]p. 39

In August 1996, the KCR Corporation set up the West Rail Steering Committee to oversee all aspects of the project. Originally conceived and carried through to the technical design phase as a 12-car system, paralleling the KCRC-operated East Rail line, the West Rail project was re-evaluated by the KCRC in autumn of 1998; the present nine-car capacity (of which trains of eight-cars are currently run) is a result of improved ultimate headway from 120 seconds to 90.[10]

The first phase of construction included a double-track commuter railway connecting Tuen Mun station and Nam Cheong station in newly reclaimed West Kowloon, at a cost of HK$46.4 billion[9] in 2002 prices which was some 28% lower than the original estimate in 1998;[11] later reports cite $51.7 billion in money of the day prices.[8]

Initial operation

Originally, the KCRC expected the West Rail to have a daily ridership of about 340,000 upon commissioning and 500,000 by 2011.[12] Actual figures hovered around 100,000 by April 2004,[13] however, and rose to 170,000 by the end of the year following a series of discounts.[14] Frequent breakdowns (by local standards: 24 incidents in 2004 caused a delay of eight minutes or more)[15] led KCRC Chairman Michael Tien to announce that he would consider resigning if service performance failed to improve.

Some 30,000 flats were originally planned to be built along the route between 2006 and 2011,[16] only to be put on hold when the property market crashed. The commuter line was built after the new towns in north-west New Territories, along with road-based transport networks, were nearing completion. Attempts to boost patronage were made by cutting longstanding bus services, which in turn necessitated government compensation to private bus operator Kowloon Motor Bus.[17]

Kowloon Southern Link

On 16 August 2009, the Kowloon Southern Link from Nam Cheong to East Tsim Sha Tsui station was opened. At the same time, the existing segment between East Tsim Sha Tsui station and Hung Hom station was transferred from the East Rail line to the West Rail line, and both services now terminated in the south and interchanged at Hung Hom.[18]


Like all MTR lines, the West Rail line is grade-separated throughout its entire length and includes a combination of underground, at-grade, and elevated sections. Running from southeast to northwest, it starts at Hung Hom station at ground level and initially heads southwest into a tunnel and descending underground through East Tsim Sha Tsui and Austin stations (the former having originally being served by the East Rail line, and the track heading northwards through the latter), before returning to ground level (though still fully covered) at Nam Cheong station. The track then runs northwest through a sealed box tunnel just to the north to and under the West Kowloon Highway through Lai Chi Kok Park into Mei Foo station, which has a ground-level/underground hybrid design. Bored tunnels traverse densely populated Kwai Chung and under the Tsuen Wan line towards Tsuen Wan West station on reclaimed land, after which a 5.5 km (3.4 mi) bored rock tunnel, the Tai Lam Tunnel, takes trains through Tai Lam Country Park.

The line emerges into open air just south of the train depot at Pat Heung and initially runs at-grade, and later on an embankment, as it approaches Kam Sheung Road station. The rest of the line is fully elevated and constructed on a continuous viaduct, running in a westerly direction through the new towns of Yuen Long and turning towards the south at Tin Shui Wai, before taking a bend towards the Tuen Mun River and eventually terminating at Tuen Mun station.

Capacity and ridership

Rolling stock and technology

The West Rail line was served by 33 eight-car MTR SP1900 EMUs built by a Japanese consortium of Kinki Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, of which 22 were originally ordered by KCRC as seven-car trains for the initial opening of the line (the same model was ordered in 12-car and 4-car variants for the East Rail and the original Ma On Shan line, respectively).[19] Up to 26 sets run during the morning peak service with a 171-second headway; MTRC specifies capacities of 52 seated and 286 standing passengers per car.[3] They were the only trains in use until March 2020, when a newly built eight-car East West line train, manufactured by CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, entered service on the line. Both of these models have a maximum running speed of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) and travel at an average speed of 56 kilometres per hour (35 mph) on the West Rail line. Unlike the trains on the East Rail line, there are no first-class compartments. All trains are serviced at Pat Heung depot and are equipped with the SelTrac IS moving block signalling system for train protection; this was among the earliest applications of the technology on a high-capacity, heavy-rail line worldwide.[20]

Beginning in January 2016, all 7-car trains were converted to 8-car trains in anticipation of the Sha Tin to Central Link (see § Future development); this was completed in May 2018.[21] During the transition period with both 7-car and 8-car trains in service, passengers had to pay attention to the platform LCD screens and announcements to queue at the right part of the platforms.[22]

Theoretical capacity

The line increased capacity between the northwest New Territories and urban areas by about 80%, and on the Tuen Mun-Yuen Long Corridor by about 200%.[9] Crowding on trains–or a lack thereof–has been a matter of heated public debate since its inauguration, as the government has no specific indicator for measuring crowdedness in train compartments as of 2014.[23]

Japanese train manufacturer Kinki Sharyo quoted car capacities (standing plus seating) upward of 430 for cab cars and 452 for the rest.[24] KCRC's stress tests prior to the system's début specified a crush-load capacity of 2345, or 335[4] passengers in longitudinal seating for each of its seven cars, which corresponds to seven passengers per square metre[25] in line with MTRC standards.[26] This contrasts with a worst-case allowable planning standard of 5 pax/square metre in the United States.[27]

In industry journals, KCRC engineers and academics quoted ultimate limits upwards of 100,000 under 105-second headways,[8][9] in nine-car configuration; however, both post-merger MTRC[3] and government planning consultants report that the 'designed maximum one-hour carrying capacity' is actually 64,000, a figure described in Hansard footnotes as 'calculated in terms of the highest train frequency allowed with the existing signaling system';[28] in the consultants' report, 2011 average loading from Kam Sheung Road to Tsuen Wan West during the busiest morning peak hour stood at 65% (of the "one-direction passenger capacity of the trains operated along the railway line", the exact figure of which was unspecified):[29] consultants thus referred to "under-utilisation of train capacity"[29]3.11. (The same consultant also forecast 50,000 pax/hr in 2031, given a peak service of 28 tph at 75,000 pax/hr capacity.)

Actual ridership

In present operations, parliamentary briefs state that the Kowloon Southern Link raised the one-hour carrying capacity from 39,900 to 46,900 pax/hr when headway was shortened from 3.5 minutes to 3.[30]

2013 LegCo submissions from the MTRC confirmed that the capacity was at 46,900 pax/hr, with average train loading during morning peak hours on weekdays (from 6.30am to 9am) at around 70%.[31] Extrapolated, 4.5 pax/square metre would translate to 'maximal overcrowding' by London Underground authorities' definitions;[32] however, James Blake, then Senior Director/Capital Projects of KCRC, noted that 6 pax/square metre was used in demand-capacity projections at peak times, and "this figure would be quite acceptable to the ordinary travelling public even at peak times"[26]p. 11.

In December 2013, the Transport and Housing Bureau submitted detailed definitions to legislators regarding average train loading without specifying the figures:[33] they were eventually released in February 2014[34] in a Legco subcommittee submission. It recognised that 6 pax/square metre design capacity standards were not achieved in actual operations, and that the service level of new MTR lines is pitched at 4 pax/square metre service benchmark. At 4 pax/square metre, the critical link on the line ran at 99% capacity (34,600 pax/hr) in 2013, partly due to lengthy turnaround times at the present Hung Hom terminus which depressed realizable carrying capacity by 20%.

Platform screen doors

All West Rail line stations have platform screen doors. The only exception was Hung Hom station, which shared its platform with the East Rail line until it was moved underground on 20 June 2021.

Fare system

The fare system of the line generally followed the other lines on the former KCR network. Octopus cards and single ride tickets were available. All persons aged between 12 and 64 were charged the adult fare, whereas children aged 11 or below, full-time students, and seniors aged 65 or above were entitled to a concession fare.[citation needed]

As with the contemporaneous East Tsim Sha Tsui extension, the KCRC adopted a value of time methodology when fare levels were established for new services, resulting in a significant markup compared to bus and East Rail services.[35]

Like the East Rail, Tuen Ma, and Tung Chung lines, the West Rail line also offered day passes and monthly passes.[36]

Monthly passes
"Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass" and "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Monthly Pass" are Octopus-stored monthly unlimited passes between the said stations, Light Rail, MTR Bus, and designated minibus routes. They were priced at HK$490 and $420 respectively unless passengers hold valid discounted passes ($410/$330), in which case the discount is rolled on. Connections to the rest of the MTR network are charged to the Octopus as if the journey were made from/to the cheapest of the interchanging West Rail line station.
Day passes
"Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass" is a $28 electronic/paper ticket combo between the said stations, MTR Bus and Light Rail; other onward connections must be made separately by exiting and re-entering the station.
A sightseeing bus service was run as a temporary feeder service of the West Rail line in the northwest New Territories. This service was launched on 26 September 2004 and ended on 28 November.[37]


The following is a list of the stations on the West Rail line, all of which have now been transferred to the Tuen Ma line.

Livery and Station Name Connections Opening date District
English Chinese
Tuen Mun 屯門
20 December 2003[a] Tuen Mun
Siu Hong 兆康
Tin Shui Wai 天水圍
Yuen Long
Long Ping 郎屏
Yuen Long 元朗
Kam Sheung Road 錦上路
Tsuen Wan West 荃灣西 Tsuen Wan
Mei Foo 美孚 Tsuen Wan line Sham Shui Po
Nam Cheong 南昌 Tung Chung line
Austin 柯士甸 16 August 2009 Yau Tsim Mong
East Tsim Sha Tsui 尖東 16 December 1979
Hung Hom 紅磡 30 November 1975

Platform relocated on 15 May 2022


  1. ^ Originally opened as part of the East Rail line.

Major incidents

Train explosion

At 9:15am on 14 February 2007, a passenger train broke down when one of the voltage transformers mounted on the train roof exploded. This incident occurred in the southbound direction in the tunnel between Kam Sheung Road and Tsuen Wan West, about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north of Tsuen Wan West. Around 650 passengers had to evacuate through the dark tunnel to the station, while around 340 people returned to the ground through a ventilation shaft at Chai Wan Kok. Eleven people were sent to hospital. Train services returned to normal after 4 hours.[38]

It was suspected that the overheated transformer caused its insulating oil to vaporise, thus causing the explosion. The train-borne circuit breaker, which was connected in parallel to the voltage transformer to the train pantograph, was not designed to isolate this kind of fault. After the incident, all SP1900 EMUs had their voltage transformers replaced. The new voltage transformers are German-made dry type transformers, which will not catch fire, even if they fail.

As an apology, the West Rail was opened for free rides on 21 February 2007, the first working day after the Chinese New Year holiday.[39]

Yuen Long attack

On the night of 21 July 2019, during ongoing protests in the territory, Yuen Long station was stormed by armed men, and 45 people were injured.[40]

Future development

Current proposals tabled under the Railway Development Strategy 2014 plan by the Hong Kong Government include the Northern Link, a spur line from Kam Sheung Road station to Lok Ma Chau station and a future Kwu Tung station, both on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line of the East Rail line; and two new stations on the current West Rail line route in Hung Shui Kiu and Tuen Mun South.[41] Hung Shui Kiu may house 160,000 in a new town, whereas Tuen Mun South is already home to 90,000 residents.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "Weekday patronage of MTR heavy rail network from September 1 to 27 and September 28 to October 25, 2014" (PDF). Legislative Council. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Island Line". Highways Department The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c MTR Corporation Limited. "Business Review" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b KCRC (1999). "Planning for New Projects" (PDF). KCRC. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  5. ^ Panel on Transport, Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways (22 November 2013). "Appendix II: Chronology of major developments of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link project" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014. LC Paper No. CB(1)308/13-14(05)
  6. ^ "History – About KCRC". Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  7. ^ Runnacles, Timothy V (1998). "4". In Dimitrou H.T.; et al. (eds.). Land use/Transport Planning in Hong Kong: The End of an Era. Ashgate. p. 110.
  8. ^ a b c d Blessis, Danal A. (2000). "West Rail: A Project Profile" (PDF). Journal of Geospatial Engineering. 2 (1): 53–61. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Au, Siu-fung (2004). "Inter-modal co-ordination of West Rail with other public transport modes" (PDF). The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong).
  10. ^ Wade, Colin (2006). "Value Engineering West Rail" (PDF). Arup Journal. 3: 24. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  11. ^ Legislative Council (6 February 2002). "LCQ2: Competitive fares for Tseung Kwan O Extension and West Rail" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  12. ^ KCRC: Legislative Council Panel on Transport (18 February 2000). "West Rail Project Update" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  13. ^ KCRC (April 2004). "Annex B Legislative Council Panel on Transport: Interchange Discount between West Rail/MTR" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014. LC Paper No. CB(1)1556/03-04(05)
  14. ^ KCRC (November 2004). "Legislative Council Panel on Transport: The Expiry of West Rail's Second 10% Discount" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  15. ^ KCRC (September 2005). "Legislative Council Panel on Transport Subcommittee on matters relating to railways: Review of West Rail incidents" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  16. ^ KCRC (July 2001). "KCR West Rail Phase I Presentation to LegCo Transport Panel Subcommittee on Matters Relating to the Implementation of Railway Development Projects" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  17. ^ Yeung, Rikkie (2008). Moving Millions: The Commercial Success and Political Controversies of Hong Kong's Railways. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-962-209-963-0.
  18. ^ "Kowloon Southern Link Opens on 16 August" (PDF) (Press release). Hong Kong: MTR Corporation. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Electric Multiple Units for KCRC MTR of Hong Kong". Japan Overseas Railway System Association. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Communications Based Train Control Projects". Transportation Systems Design, Inc. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  21. ^ "First West Rail Line 8-car Train Ready for Passenger Service from 2 January" (PDF). MTR Corporation. 28 December 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  22. ^ Au-yeung, Allen (28 December 2015). "MTR adds eight-car trains to Hong Kong's West Rail line". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  23. ^ Research Office, Information Services Division (January 2014). "Research Brief Issue No. 4: Measures to ease crowdedness of train compartments in overseas cities" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  24. ^ Kinki Sharyo (2004). "Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC), Hong Kong Electric Multiple Unit (EMU)". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  25. ^ Ming Pao Daily (14 September 2003). "西鐵「沙包試車」 測試負重力". Ming Pao Daily. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  26. ^ a b Legislative Council Secretariat (26 April 2000). "Legislative Council Panel on Transport: Minutes of Meeting held on Wednesday, 29 March 2000, at 8:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014. LC Paper No. CB(1)1436/99-00
  27. ^ Kittleson & Associates Inc. for Transit Cooperative Research Program (2003). Transit Capacity & Quality of Service Manual. Washington D.C.: TCRP.
  28. ^ "MTR train frequencies of railway lines in different periods, number of cars on each train, train carrying capacity, train loading rates and number of seats" (PDF). HKSAR Government. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  29. ^ a b c Our Future Railway (2013). Review and Update of the "Railway Development Strategy 2000" – Stage 2 Public Engagement – Consultation Document (PDF). Transport and Housing Bureau. p. 12.
  30. ^ Council Business Division 1, Legislative Council Secretariat (July 2013). "Panel on Transport: Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways. Meeting on 5 July 2013: Updated background brief on railway service performance" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. p. 3. Retrieved 20 February 2014. LC Paper No. CB(1)1421/12-13(02) ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ Legislative Council (17 July 2013). "LCQ12: Train services of MTR West Rail line and Light Rail". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  32. ^ Greater London Authority (September 2009). "Too close for comfort: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground" (PDF). Greater London Authority.
  33. ^ Transport and Housing Bureau (4 December 2013). "LCQ10: MTR service". Transport and Housing Bureau, Hong Kong SARG. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  34. ^ Transport and Housing Bureau (February 2014). "Legislative Council Panel on Transport Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways: Capacity and Loading of MTR Trains" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 25 February 2014. CB(1)980/13-14(03)
  35. ^ KCRC (October 2004). "Legislative Council Panel on Transport: An Update on the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension Project and its Fares" (PDF). Legislative Council, Hong Kong. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  36. ^ MTR (February 2012). "Day Pass – Monthly Pass" (PDF). Mass Transit Railway Corporation. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  37. ^ KCRC press release
  38. ^ Cheng, Jonathan (15 February 2007). "KCRC in pledge on safety". The Standard. Hong Kong. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
  39. ^ "Remarks of KCRC Chairman Mr Michael Tien on the West Rail Incident". KCRC. 15 February 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2007.
  40. ^ "Hong Kong protests: Armed mob storms Yuen Long station". BBC. 22 July 2019.
  41. ^ "Railway Development Strategy 2014" (PDF). Transport and Housing Bureau. Hong Kong Government. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
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West Rail line
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