North Island Line

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North Island Line
System MTR
Locale Districts: Central and Western, Wan Chai, Eastern
Stations 2
Track gauge 1,432 mm (4 ft 8 38 in) or 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Route map
Interchange Swap
Names of two schemes
 existing Island Line 
 existing Tung Chung Line 
 existing Airport Express 
Hong Kong
Left: as termini of two lines
Right: as station of TC line
 South Island Line (East) 
 existing Tsuen Wan Line 
 North South Corridor 
Wan Chai
Causeway Bay
Causeway Bay North
Tin Hau
Left: joins TKO Line
Right: divides Island Line
Fortress Hill
North Point
Quarry Bay
 existing Tseung Kwan O Line 
Tai Koo
 existing Island Line 

North Island Line is a proposal to provide rapid transit service for the area between the existing MTR Island Line and the northern coast of Hong Kong Island in order to relieve the already congested Island Line.

Originally according to the documentary, "Rail Projects Under Planning 2000", released by the Highways Department,[1] the current Tung Chung Line would be extended from Hong Kong terminus eastward and two new stations, Tamar Station and Exhibition Station are proposed on the extension. The new route would then join and substitute the Island Line from Fortress Hill Station to Chai Wan terminus. Tseung Kwan O Line will have newly constructed tunnel connected from its North Point terminus to Tin Hau Station without passing via Fortress Hill Station and substitute the remaining western half of the Island Line.

In 2013, the Highways Department released a second option for the North Island Line scheme, so-called the "interchange scheme" because it will only extend Tung Chung Line and Tseung Kwan O Line to be joined at Tamar Station as an interchange station for the 2 lines without dividing the Island Line. The original scheme is addressed as the "swap scheme" for distinction.

Current  Island Line route map

2000 proposal[edit]

The extension of Tung Chung Line forms part of the third phase of land reclamation of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island's northern coast. Due to the disagreement from public and political parties such as Society for Protection of the Harbour and the insufficient traffic demand, the MTR Corporation has never given the proposal a commencement date. To add more uncertainty, the proposed Shatin to Central Link and the merger of MTRC and KCRC also influence the fate of North Island Line. Due to said reasons, in 2003 Hong Kong Government have postponed it indefinitely. However, the MTRC included the Sha Tin to Central Link and the North Island Line details in the diagrams of the latest schemes of the West Island Line and South Island Line, released in 2008. Those diagrams have excluded the now cancelled Central South Station and Racecourse Station.[2]

2013 proposal[edit]

On 21 February 2013, the Highways Department launched stage 2 public engagement consultation of Our Future Railway, and proposed two schemes of North Island Line.[3] In addition to a "Swap" scheme which was similar to previous proposals, the consultation documents also included a second "Interchange" scheme.

"Swap" scheme[edit]

The existing Tung Chung Line will be extended along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island, with Tamar, Exhibition and Causeway Bay North Stations along the path. The extension will then connects eastwards to the existing Island Line Fortress Hill Station, and take up the remaining Island Line section to Chai Wan Station.

At the same time, Tseung Kwan O Line will extend from its current westbound terminus North Point Station to the existing Island Line Tin Hau Station, and take up the remaining Island Line to Kennedy Town Station.

As the diagram below shows, the existing rails between Tin Hau Station and Fortress Hill Station will be removed.

This scheme greatly increases the number of stations reached by Tung Chung Line and Tseung Kwan O Line on the Hong Kong Island, but east-west directional traffic along the existing Island Line will be interrupted and require an interchange. Also, the maximum train frequency between Fortress Hill and Chai Wan Stations, which are taken up by Tung Chung Line, will have to reduce by 8 trains per hour because the service frequency of the Tung Chung Line is hampered by the Tsing Ma Bridge capacity.

Original North Island Line route scheme, namely the swap scheme,
including the proposed Sha Tin to Central Link, West Island Line and South Island Line

"Interchange" scheme[edit]

Both the existing Tung Chung Line and Tseung Kwan O Line will be extended along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island. Three stations, namely Tamar, Exhibition and Causeway Bay North, will be constructed along the extensions, and either Tamar or Causeway Bay North Station will be chosen as an interchange between the two lines.

This scheme preserves the existing Island Line and does not change the current commuting pattern between Central and Western District and Eastern District. However, as Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O Lines will not be connected to Island Line, some passengers would still need to make an interchange like they currently do. Also, this arrangement will do less than the "Swap" scheme to relieve congestion, since although the number of stations and the area served has increased, the link with the current Island Line is still the same, unlike the "Swap" scheme.

North Island Line interchange scheme

2014 plan[edit]

According to the documentary "Railway Development Strategy 2014", the government opted for the interchange scheme because it is cheaper and does not interfere with the commuting practice of the current Island Line users. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and finish in 2026. The cost is estimated to be HK$20 billion in 2013 prices.[4]