MTR opens doors to stations along new South Island Line ahead of next week’s launch
Tens of thousands of Hongkongers flocked to brand new MTR stations on Saturday for a sneak peek at the city’s first new railway line in more than a decade.
Train services were not running ahead of the official opening of the long-awaited South Island Line next Wednesday, but the MTR Corporation invited the public to inspect its four new stations in Southern District and the extended interchange at Admiralty that will link it to the rest of the city’s railway network. Some 28,000 people responded to the invitation.
The HK$16.5 billion line, the first to open since the Disneyland Resort Line in 2005, will feature driverless three-carriage trains and run from South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau to Admiralty via new stations at Lei Tung, Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park.
Other new additions are the Kwun Tong Line extension to Ho Man Tin and Whampoa, which opened in October, and the extension of the Island Line from Sheung Wan to Sai Ying Pun, the University of Hong Kong and Kennedy Town in 2014.
Excited residents and railway buffs could be seen thronging the platforms at Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park MTR stations for souvenir photos of the new driverless trains passing through during testing.
Among them was 53-year-old teacher Edmund Wud Tai-ming, who noted some the bare-bones design work at Wong Chuk Hang station.
“This station is simple and looks primitive, but us Hong Kong people, we like efficiency and if it does the job, great,” he said.
“It is very convenient for us to travel between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. In the past we suffered from the traffic in the tunnel so we didn’t know when we would arrive at our destination but now we will have more control of our time.”
He added that he usually spent around 70 minutes travelling to and from Wong Chuk Hang into Central and Kowloon.
Sam Chan Siu-lim, 59, described Wong Chuk Hang station as “fresh” but “small”. The South Island Line would transform his life, he said, after waking up at 5.30 am daily to go to work while avoiding the traffic jams and crowds between Aberdeen and Central.
Asked whether the rail operator was ready for the opening on December 28, Francis Li Shing-kee, the MTR’s operating head , said it had been going smoothly since trial operations began on October 1.
“We haven’t found any big issues and we have managed well,” he said. “We will do our best and try to identify as many [problems] as possible. At the moment, we are ready for the train service [to start].”
The new line is expected to serve 170,000 people a day.
The fare for the four-minute journey from Admiralty to Ocean Park will be HK$5.30, while that for the 11-minute trip to South Horizons will be HK$6.70.