Hong Kong Tramways
|Hong Kong Tramways|
A Hong Kong double-decker tram
|Number of lines||6|
|Number of stations||120 tram stops|
|Operator(s)||Hong Kong Tramways Limited (Wholly owned by Veolia Transport – RATP Asia)|
|System length||30 kilometres (19 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Cape gauge|
|Electrification||Overhead lines, 550 V DC|
|Hong Kong Tramways|
|Cantonese Jyutping||hoeng1 gong2 din6 ce1|
Hong Kong Tramways is a tram system in Hong Kong and one of the earliest forms of public transport in Hong Kong. Owned and operated by Veolia Transport, the tramway runs on Hong Kong Island between Shau Kei Wan and Kennedy Town, with a branch circulating Happy Valley. Trams in Hong Kong have not only been a form of transport for over 100 years, but also a major tourist attraction and one of the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling in Hong Kong. It is the only exclusively double-decker operated tram system in the world, and one of only three non-heritage tram systems in the world that use double-deck cars.
Hong Kong's tram system began directly as an electric tram. It has never run on horse or steam power.
- 1881: Tramway system proposed for Hong Kong.
- 1901: Proposal accepted by Hong Kong Government.
- 1902: Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company Ltd founded.
- 1902: Name changed to Electric Traction Company of Hong Kong Ltd.
- 1903: Construction of a single-track system began, from Kennedy Town to Causeway Bay. The route was later extended to Shau Kei Wan.
- 1904: Bodies of the first fleet of 26 tramcars were built in the UK They were then shipped in pieces to and assembled in Hung Hom. The tramcars were all single-deck, of which 10 tramcars were designed for first class passengers and the others were for third class passengers. The first class compartment was enclosed in the centre with two long benches on both sides and both the front and back ends were open. Seating capacity was 32 passengers. The third class tramcars were open-sided with six sets of benches running crossways, back to back, seating 48 passengers. Tram fares for the first and the third class were 10 cents and 5 cents respectively. Initially, the company planned to divide the trams into 3 classes, but subsequently only the first and the third class were chosen for ease of operation.
- 1910: Name of the company changed to The Hong Kong Tramways Ltd.
- 1912: Owing to strong passenger demand, the first double-deck tramcar was introduced in 1912. The tramcar was open-top with garden seat design. The first class occupied the upper deck and one-third of the lower deck. Ten new tramcars were constructed.
- 1922: Electricity was contracted and supplied by Hong Kong Electric Co. Ltd (HEC)
- 1925: Enclosed double-decker trams replaced open-top trams.
- 1932: North Point Depot came into service.
- 1941: Japanese occupation took place. Very limited tram service was provided. Only 12 tramcars were in operation daily from Causeway Bay to Western Market.
- 1945: After three years and eight months of Japanese Occupation, all 109 tramcars still remained, but only 15 were operational. By October 1945, 40 tramcars were back in service.
- 1949: Single-track system was substituted by double track system in August 1949.
- 1950: Tramways undertook an extensive re-design and started building its own trams. Tram bodies adopted a "modern" design.
- 1954: North Point Depot closed and Russell Street Depot expanded and renamed Sharp Street Depot.
- 1964: Three locally made trams added.
- 1965 – Due to passenger demand, a single deck trailer was introduced. The trailer was attached to the back of ordinary tramcar and designed to serve first class passengers only. The maximum capacity was 36 persons for each trailer.
- 1966: As trailers were well accepted by passengers, 22 single deck trailers were deployed in the fleet during 1966–67. Although trailers played a significant role in the tramways, they were finally withdrawn from the service in 1980s.
- 1967: New-type trams designed.
- 1972: Class distinction abolished and flat fare introduced.
- 1974: The Hong Kong Tramways Ltd acquired by Wharf Holdings
- 1976 – Drop-in coin-boxes were installed at the trams. For each tram, a coin-box was fitted near the driver at the front exit. Passengers are required to drop in the exact fare on leaving the tram. Rotating turnstiles were fitted at the entrance which was located at the rear of a tram. Conductors were no longer needed and most of them retrained to become motormen.
- 1979: Last tram was manufactured.
- 1982: All trams were mustered out.
- 1986: Another renewal.
- 1989: Sharp Street Depot closed and terminus function split between Sai Wan Ho and the Whitty Street depots.
- 1992: Two double-deck trams made by Tramways were exported to Birkenhead in the UK.
- 1992: Point Automation System deployed and points man system for altering the direction of tram manually was abolished.
- 2000: Tramways launched the "Millennium" new tram on 24 October 2000 which was designed and manufactured by its own engineering team. The success of this tramcar marked an important milestone in the history of Hong Kong Tramways and this kind of tram was categorised as the fifth-generation of tramcar.
- 2001: The Octopus electronic smart card payment system introduced on trams.
- 2004: Tramways celebrates 100 years of service.
- 2007: Route map was installed on each tram stop. New driving panels were introduced in November.
- 2008: Air-conditioning was installed on antique tram #128.
- 2009: 50% stake and operating rights obtained by Veolia Transport.
- 2009: 100% ownership by Veolia Transport.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2008)|
The trams run on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, with a single clockwise-running track of about 3 km (1.9 mi) around the Happy Valley Racecourse. Depending on road conditions, some unofficial sites are used as terminus, such as Sai Wan, Admiralty, Wan Chai, and Victoria Park.
There are six major overlapping routes:
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Western Market
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Happy Valley
- Shau Kei Wan ↔ Kennedy Town
- North Point ↔ Whitty Street
- Happy Valley ↔ Kennedy Town
- Causeway Bay ↔ Whitty Street
- Western Market ↔ Kennedy Town
|Shau Kei Wan||westbound||05:58–23:55||05:58–23:36||05:56–23:36|
|average frequency during peak hours: 90 seconds|
|Duration of journey (in minutes)|
|Western Market||Causeway Bay||Happy Valley||North Point||Shau Kei Wan|
- Total length – 13 km. (with a total track length of 30 km )
- Operating Hours – 5:30 am to 12:30 am
- Fare – HKD 2.3
On average, the interval between each tram is approximately 1.5 minutes during peak hours. In the past, trams had a maximum speed of 40 km/h. But from the beginning of 2008, the speed of some trams was increased. Now most trams have a maximum speed of 50 km/h, a few of them even have a maximum speed of 60 km/h The maximum capacity of each tramcar is 115 people.
The fare is HK$2.30 for adults, HK$1.20 for children under 12, and HK$1.10 for senior citizens 65 and above. Unlike most other forms of public transport in Hong Kong, there is a uniform tariff regardless of the distance travelled. Passengers pay by either depositing the exact fare in coins or using the Octopus card. Monthly tickets are also available at the cost of HK$170, sold at Whitty Street tram depot, Causeway Bay, and North Point termini at the end of each month.
Ordinary and antique trams are available for private hire. The open-balcony antique trams are often used for parties and promotional events. Tourists can also travel the open-top trams through tours organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Hong Kong Tramways now owns 163 double axle double-decker trams, including two open-balcony dim-sum tourist trams (Vehicle numbers 28 and 128) for tourist trips and private hire. There are also a maintenance trams (Vehicle numbers 200 and 300) plus a non-powered trailer car. The trams themselves are sometimes called the "DingDing" by Hong Kong people, after the double bell ring trams use to warn pedestrians of their approach. Hong Kong has the only fully double-decker tram fleet in the world. Most of the trams in operation were rebodied in the late 1980s or early 1990s. They are equipped with sliding windows. Since the early 2000s, these trams have been upgraded to provide better operating performance and safety.
The tram fleet first consisted of 26 single-deck trams, with bodies 29 ft (8.8 m) long and 6 ft 1 in (1.9 m) wide, imported from England. However, they were quickly removed because of the rapid modernisation programmes. These tramcars were replaced by open-top double-deck tramcars from 1912 onwards. The introduction of permanent roofs for trams in 1923 was a big improvement to the system. In 1960s, adding trailers was proposed due to the increasing population and demands. In December 1964, after testing a prototype built by Taikoo Dockyard in Hong Kong, 10 trailers were ordered from the UK and were added to the trams in Hong Kong in early 1965. Ten additional trailers were ordered from England in 1967, bringing the total number of trailers to 22. They were all withdrawn and scrapped by the end of 1982, since they used to derail frequently and were not economical to run – requiring a separate conductor for only 36 extra passengers.
Trams 70 and 120 are the only two trams still maintaining the original 1950s design. The cabins are varnished with their original light-green colour with teak-lined windows and rattan seats.
In 2000, three new aluminium alloy metal-bodied trams (officially called "Millennium trams"), #168 – 170, started operation. These trams have proven quite unpopular due to the poor ventilation in the summer – unlike on previous models, the front screen window cannot be opened to improve air-flow to passengers. A prototype air-conditioned tram, number 171, is under testing.
In 2007, a new maintenance tram was constructed, number 200, which is used to move trams in the depot. Besides electric power, it also uses a diesel motor.
Starting November 7, new driving panels has been installed on trams after refurbishment. The first tram on the program was number 38.
In 2008, an air-conditioner was installed on the 'antique' tram #128.
Planned Tram Refurbishment
In October 2010, Veolia Transport showcased a prototype for the new model of trams. It plans to renovate the whole fleet at a cost of HKD 75 Million. The trams would keep their original exterior design, but the outer structure would be aluminium rather than teak as it is more durable. The benches on the lower deck would be replaced with single seats as well as a more modern look. Digital broadcasts would be placed inside trams to inform passengers of the next station, and LED lighting will be installed. AC motors and a new eddy current emergency braking system would be installed.
- Fleet Details
|Make/Model||Description||Fleet size||Year acquired||Year retired||Notes|
|Dick, Kerr & Company of Preston, England (#1–16, #27-36) and Electric Railway & Tramway Works Limited of Preston (a Dick Kerr subsidiary) (#17–26) First Generation cars||single deck cars – wood||36||1904–1905||1930s|
|United Electric Car Company of Preston, England & Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Co.of Kowloon, Hong Kong - Second Generation cars||double decker cars – wood||28 (10 as new, 18 rebuilt from single deck cars)||1912–1913||1920s||open-topped|
|English Electric Company Preston, England & Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Co.of Kowloon, Hong Kong - Third Generation cars||double decker cars – wood||48 (34 as new, 4 rebuilt from single deck cars, Second Generation cars also rebuilt with wooden fixed roof)||1923–1924||1930s||new cars of first 16 cars fitted with canvas roof, others fitted with wooden fixed roof|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - fourth Generation cars (prewar)||double decker car – wood||119 (39 as new, others rebuilt from existing fleet)||1925–1949||1950s|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - fourth Generation cars (1949, 1950s style)||double decker car – aluminium panels, teak frame||163 (43 as new, 1 rebuilt in 1979 from a non-powered trailer car #1, others rebuilt from existing fleet)||1949 (original #120), 1950-1964 (#121-162), 1979 (#163)||1990s|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - fourth Generation cars (current design)||double decker car – aluminium panels, teak frame||157 – #120 (rebuilt in 1990s based on 1950s style) and rest from the 1980s (#1–27, 29–43, 45–119, 121–127, 129–143, 145–150, 151–163, 165–166)||rebuilt from 1986, 1987 – 1990s||#1, #9, #36, #56, #58, #66, #99, #108, #109, #116, #141, #157 rebuilt as VVVF drive vehicle|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong Millennium||double decker car – aluminium alloy||4 (only 3 in service) – #168–171||2000||#171 air-condition unit being tested, #168 rebuilt as VVVF drive vehicle|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong trailer cars||passenger single deckcars – aluminium alloy, (#1 – aluminium panels, teak frame)||22||1964, 1965-1966||1982 (only #1 rebuilt as double decker car #163)||non-powered trailers|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - work car||single decker car||1 – #200 (first generation)||1956||1984|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - work car||double decker cars||2 – #200 and 300||part of top is exposed and most of the lower windows blocked off; stored at Whitty Depot|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - trailer||non-powered trailer||1 - no numbered||stored at Whitty Depot|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - private hire cars||antique double deck cars – aluminium panels, teak frame||2 – #28 and 128||1985, 1987||Private hire only|
|Hong Kong Tramways, Hong Kong - first batch of VVVF drive vehicle||double decker car – aluminium alloy, (#172 – aluminium panels, teak frame)||18 – #1, #9, #36, #56, #58, #66, #99, #108, #109, #116, #141, #157, #168, #171–175||2009-2012||exterior of body based on fourth generation cars, but with Millennium cars interior, fitted with LED destination display|
Whitty Street, also known as West Depot, is the location of the main depot for current operations. It previously operated as a terminus. When the Sharp Street Depot was closed, the site was expanded by 1.28 hectares on the Western reclamation in Sai Ying Pun leased from the Government, henceforth became the main depot.
There is a two-storey work shop, which was responsible for rebuilds in the 1980s. Car #168, the newest in the fleet was built here.
Sai Wan Ho became the East Depot after the closure of the Sharp Street Depot. This depot occupies a site of 0.7 hectares leased from the Government on a 5-year renewable tenancy. It lies beneath the Island Eastern Corridor near Shau Kei Wan Road and Hoi Foo Street and stores 56 cars.
With the upsurge in the number of trams, the original depot became overcrowded by 1932, prompting Hong Kong Tramways to secure the North Point Depot site at King's Road for tram parking purposes (storage for 30 cars).
In 1951, the North Point Depot was closed. Operations moved to new facility in Russell Street, Wan Chai.
A single comprehensive depot at Russell Street was built to alleviate overcrowding at North Point. It was able to house the whole tram fleet (approximately 120 cars). Upon its completion, the depot was renamed Sharp Street Depot. Sharp Street Depot was closed in 1989 and its services were divided between two new depots, the Sai Wan Ho depot (East Depot) and the Whitty Street depot (West Depot).
The Executive Council approved Tramways' plan to relocate its depots to Sai Wan Ho and Sai Ying Pun in July 1986, on the argument that the HK$3.5 million in operating costs would be saved. The company promised that tram fares would be unchanged until the end of 1988. The old Sharp Street tram depot was decommissioned in 1988, and the Times Square commercial complex was constructed on the site.
Arsenal Street Depot was the earlier of the HKT's storage facilities and replaced by Whitty and Sharp Street Depots.
Alignment and interchanges
In many places, trams shares route along with other vehicles.
Most of the tram stop locations have remained unchanged since their establishment. However, some have had their names changed, e.g. "Shu Shen Guan" (Chinese 書信館), General Post Office in the 1940s is now called "World-Wide House". In 1934, Hong Kong Tramways introduced loading islands (waiting areas) at some busy tram stops to ensure the safety of passengers. Today, there are 123 tram stops in total, most of them are sheltered refuge islands.
Just like buses, trams in Hong Kong can be very crowded. During the busier periods of the day, trams often line up since there are many tramcars running at the same time. In 2002, the trams recorded an average of 240,000 passenger trips daily.
Tram stops are densely located in an average interval of 250 metres (820 ft). Most of them are located in the middle of the road, connected by pedestrian crossings or footbridges. Major stops include Yee Wo Street stop at Causeway Bay, Pacific Place stop at Admiralty, and Prince's Building / The Landmark stop at Central.
Many terminal stations of the Hong Kong Tramways are on balloon loops. This enables the trams to reverse its travel direction efficiently.
In 2007, stations began to add electric tram road maps with detail of the various terminals and sub-stations and the six routes.
Public reception and cultural significance
The trams have not only been a form of transportation for over a century, but also a major tourist attraction. The well-preserved tram lines still serve as a crucial means of transport in Hong Kong. Travelling in the lower deck of the tram allows travellers to have a close up view of the local street life, while occupying the front seats of the upper deck gives good views of the town as the tram rattles by.
As they run through the urban area of Hong Kong Island, the tram tracks has become an important icon of urban Hong Kong. Since the tracks were originally built along the waterfront, the tracks can be used to identify directions and locations throughout urban Hong Kong Island.
Red light meals
Former tram drivers did not have adequate scheduled times for meals. Most drivers will therefore eat rapidly while their trams are waiting at a red light. This kind of hurried, impromptu meal is commonly referred as "red light meals" (Chinese: 紅燈飯).
Due to constant increasing volume of commuters, the authorities are considering replacing most double decker stocks with single decker articulated modern stocks, very much like trams of Istanbul and Dalian. Some double deckers will be kept mainly for old charm and as a tourist attraction, but most will be replaced by articulated trams.
Hong Kong Tramways is proposing to build its first new line in decades – a route for tourists along the waterfront from Sheung Wan to Wan Chai. The company has launched a technical feasibility study for a loop line that would serve the new Star Ferry pier and breathe new life into tram services. It is also drawing up plans for new metal-framed trams to replace the wood-framed ones that ply its existing routes. The new design could go into production as early as 2011. Both proposals would first need the backing of the company's board.
Hong Kong Tramways Company are to advise the Government that they would like to train into the Kai Tak Development Area and the West Kowloon Cultural District. Bruno Charrade, Managing Director, said the new line can be connected with the Hong Kong Island tram or in a new shape, depending on the Government's discretion.
There have previously been two separate extensions planned that were subsequently modified to be developed as light rail and metro systems.
New Territories tram system
During the development of Tuen Mun New Town in the 1970s, the Government had reserved space for the construction of a rail transportation system to serve the area. In 1982, the Government invited the Hong Kong Tramways to construct and operate a tram system in the area. The company initially expressed interest in the construction of the railway and intended to operate with double-decker trams, but later withdrew. The government then invited KCRC to construct and operate a light rail way. The system was opened to public on 18 September 1988, it is now known as the Light Rail Transit system
Chai Wan Line
In 1970, Chai Wan on eastern Hong Kong Island was developed into a residential and industrial area, which greatly increased the traffic demand to Central. Extending the tram line from Shau Kei Wan to Chai Wan was considered, but was ultimately rejected due to the cost-effectiveness of tunnelling through the mountains to make level track. It was replaced by the Island Line service — linking Chai Wan and Admiralty — which was opened to the public on 31 May 1985.
- Martin Barnett (1984). Tramlines: The Story of the Hong Kong Tramway System. South China Morning Post. ISBN 962-100-032-7.
- Martin Jones (1984). Tram Jam: The Hong Kong Tram Collection. Presstram. ISBN 962-711-801-X.
- Mike Davis (2004)：Hong Kong Trams - Hong Kong Tramwys 100 Years ISBN 1-900515-95-4
- WE LOVE TRAM. Hong Kong Tram Enthusiasts. 2011. ISBN 978-988-19956-4-3.
- Joseph Tse & Ricky Lau (2012) Amazing Ding Ding ISBN 978-988-219-819-7
- Eric Lee (2012). A Centenary Date with Hong Kong Tramways. Tramric & Hong Kong Tramways Ltd. ISBN 978-988-16655-0-8.
- "Environmental Friendliness, Hong Kong Tramways".
- "Railway Gazette: Redesigning Hong Kong's iconic trams".
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EkvKPlKwPo Sound recording of the AC propulsion in Tram 173
- Plan to relocate depot keeps tram-fares down, South China Morning Post, 16 July 1986
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Trams in Hong Kong|
- Hong Kong Tramways
- Hong Kong Tram Enthusiasts
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- Gallery of tramcars and work cars
- Hong Kong Trams