West Rail Line
West Rail Line
A West Rail Line train arriving at Kam Sheung Road Station
|Locale||Districts: Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun|
|Opening||20 December 2003|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||25 kV AC, 50 Hz|
The West Rail Line (Chinese: 西鐵綫) is one of the MTR lines in Hong Kong, indicated by the colour deep red purple. It was formerly known as the KCR West Rail (九廣西鐵). It starts at Hung Hom Station in Yau Tsim Mong District and ends at Tuen Mun Station in Tuen Mun.
Currently the West Rail Line only provides a local service, and resembles a metro more than a commuter railway. However the line was built to commuter railway standard, in the expectation that it would accommodate other trains in the future.
The railway line was originally built by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and was operated as part of that operator's three line network prior to its merger with the MTR Corporation (MTRC). Operation was taken over by the MTRC on 2 December 2007, after the merger took effect. The line is still owned by the KCRC, although it is now leased to the MTRC.
A railway to the northwestern New Territories from the urban area in Kowloon was proposed in the early 1990s. Both the MTR and the KCRC submitted plans to the government, but ultimately the KCRC's proposal to Tin Shui Wai new town was selected. However, several major accidents on Tuen Mun Road led to requests by residents in Tuen Mun for a railway connection to the centre of their town. Thus the route in the final proposal deviates from the original plan (in which the line terminated in the centre of Tin Shui Wai new town), to terminate near Tuen Mun town centre.
Originally conceived and carried through to the technical design phase as a 12-car system, in parallel to the then-existing East Rail line, the West Rail project was re-evaluated by the KCRC in autumn of 1998; the present nine-car capacity (of which seven are run) is a result of improved headway from 120 seconds to 90.
Originally, the KCRC expected the West Rail to have a daily ridership figure of 300,000 passengers, but poor onward connections between stations and the areas they serve (only access to 30% of the population of the entire Yuen Long and Tuen Mun districts) meant that the number of commuters choosing to use the West Rail Line remained far short of the goal after opening (only 100,000 passengers by May 2004). Large-scale property developments along the West Rail were originally planned to generate new passenger demand but were delayed by government policy. The delay in constructing the West Rail itself was a problem, residents were already accustomed to other methods of transport which were already heavily developed. The KCRC was also blamed for its route planning and forceful reduction of bus services, which has mainly been provided by Kowloon Motor Bus after operations began. However, the HKSAR government later provided compensation to KMB because of this.
Furthermore, due to the frequent breakdowns, the chairman of KCRC, Michael Tien, announced that if the performance of West Rail did not improve, he would consider resigning. Although monthly passes were introduced on 1 August 2004, and the daily ridership increased to 150,000, there was still a long way to go before the KCRC's goal of 200,000 passengers was met.
Since 20 December 2004, the further discount of 20% was cancelled due to the quick recovery of the economy and a ridership increase to 170,000 per day. The monthly pass concession was extended for another half-year.
Improvement of signalling system
In August 2005, Michael Tien announced that 90% of breakdowns of the signalling system are due to failure of axle counters. Of the whole line, 45% is elevated, which makes power lines easier to be hit by lightning, leading to such breakdowns. The average distance between two stations is three kilometres, which means that engineers take extra time to repair the signalling system. The most serious breakdown occurred on 21 July 2005 and caused a delay of up to 40 minutes, which exceeds the total journey time of 30 minutes.
For this reason, KCRC decided to spend HK$10 million to improve the signalling system, including hiring foreign railway experts and finding solutions to decrease downtime.
Kowloon Southern Link
On 16 August 2009, the Kowloon Southern Link from Nam Cheong to East Tsim Sha Tsui Station was opened. Simultaneously, the segment between East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and Hung Hom Station was transferred from the East Rail Line to the West Rail Line, so both services now meet and terminate at Hung Hom.
The track is mostly above ground level and runs from the east to the west. It starts at Hung Hom Station at ground level, then goes underground, passing through East Tsim Sha Tsui and Austin stations, and then emerges at ground level in Nam Cheong Station (although the track is completely covered and sealed at this point), and it is located to the right of West Kowloon Highway. The track travels under the West Kowloon Highway for a couple of kilometres. The line at this point is actually laid at ground level, but the covered track gives the impression of underground travel. Then the track turns north, travelling through a few hills. The track emerges at ground level out of the hills just south of Mei Foo Station, although the track is still covered and sealed. After departing from Mei Foo Station, the track enters more hills and goes underground again, turning westbound at the same time towards Tsuen Wan West Station. After Tsuen Wan West Station, the track goes into the hills before emerging at ground level just east of Kam Sheung Road Station. The rest of the track was constructed on a viaduct, where there is room for an emergency passage.
The fare system of the line generally follows the other lines on the former KCR network. Octopus cards and single ride tickets are available. All persons aged between 12 and 64 are charged the adult fare, while children (and full-time students) aged 11 or below, and elderly aged 65 or above are entitled to a concession fare. After the rail merger, passengers using Octopus cards interchanging at Mei Foo or Nam Cheong stations to the Tsuen Wan Line or Tung Chung Line may enjoy fare concessions. The total fare is calculated with reference to the two interchanging stations (Mei Foo or Nam Cheong, depends on the one with lower total fare), and a discount is implied on the trip.
The line is quite well known in the city for its high fare, even after the rail merger. Currently it is relatively high in the entire fare table. This is because of its high fare before merger and fare calculation for long trips (total fare $12 or above) is the same regardless to involution of interchanging, so that such "interchanging charges" still appears. Normally, its fare is significantly higher than the East Rail Line (except Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau), higher than Tung Chung Station but lower than Disneyland Resort Station. Yet in some cases, it is higher.
The line also offers day passes and monthly passes.
- Monthly Passes
"Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass" and "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Monthly Pass" are stored in the Octopus Card. "Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass" allow the passenger to enjoy unlimited rides of the West Rail Line between Tuen Mun Station and Hung Hom Station while "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Monthly Pass" allow the passenger to enjoy unlimited rides of the West Rail Line between Tuen Mun Station and Nam Cheong Station. Both of them allow the passenger to enjoy unlimited rides of the Light Rail, MTR Bus and designated minibus routes within the month. "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Monthly Pass" are sold at $420 and holders of the $330/$410 monthly pass can continue to enjoy the $330/month offer. "Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass" are sold at $490 and holders of the $410/$330 monthly pass can continue to enjoy the $410/month offer.
It should be noticed that if monthly pass users take rides outside the areas specified for the pass, an extra fare will be deducted from the octopus card. It is equal to the fare from the station towards Mei Foo, Nam Cheong, East Tsim Sha Tsui (only for Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass) or Hung Hom (only for Tuen Mun-Hung Hom Monthly Pass), depends on the lowest one. Full fare will be charged if the user takes rides without involving any West Rail Line stations.
- Day Passes
"Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass" is in the form of a magnetic ticket, plus a paper folder which is called the "Boarding Pass" for the free interchange to MTR Bus and Light Rail. They are sold at $22, and the passenger can enjoy unlimited rides of the West Rail Line between Tuen Mun Station and Nam Cheong Station, Light Rail and MTR Bus within the service day. They need to use the ticket to pass through the entry / exit gates at West Rail Line stations. When travelling on buses, they need to present the ticket with the boarding pass when they board. When travelling on the Light Rail, they need to present the ticket with the boarding pass during ticket inspection. Holders of 10 "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass" can exchange for a new "Tuen Mun-Nam Cheong Day Pass" at West Rail Line Stations.
This is a list of all the stations on West Rail Line. The coloured boxes holding the station names represent the unique colour motif for the station. Unlike the former East Rail Line inherited from KCR, the stations have platform screen doors regardless of the station's level with respect to the ground except for Hung Hom station, which was originally an East Rail Line station only.
|Livery and Name||District||Connection(s)||Date opened|
|West Rail Line|
|Hung Hom3||Yau Tsim Mong||█ East Rail Line||30 November 1974
(as part of East Rail Line)
|East Tsim Sha Tsui3||Tsim Sha Tsui Station for █ Tsuen Wan Line||24 October 2004
(as part of East Rail Line)
|Austin3||16 August 2009|
|Nam Cheong||Sham Shui Po||█ Tung Chung Line||20 December 2003|
|Mei Foo||█ Tsuen Wan Line|
|Tsuen Wan West||Tsuen Wan||Tsuen Wan West|
|Kam Sheung Road||Yuen Long||Northern Link Kam Sheung Road|
|Yuen Long||█ Light Rail|
|Tin Shui Wai||█ Light Rail|
|Siu Hong||Tuen Mun|
# Under construction
2 Tsuen Wan West Station of the █ West Rail Line and Tsuen Wan Station of █ Tsuen Wan Line are not physically linked. However, green minibus route 95K is provided between the two stations (free transfer with an immediate West Rail Line journey record on the Octopus card). Journey time is 15–20 minutes Tsuen Wan Station on foot.
At 9:15 am on 14 February 2007, a passenger train broke down when one of the voltage transformers mounted on the train (EMU SP1900) roof exploded. It was suspected that the overheated transformer caused its insulating oil to vapourise, 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 have had their voltage transformers replaced. The new voltage transformers are German-made dry type transformers, which will not catch fire even if they fail.
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.
The West Rail Line will be extended both to the south and north in the future. The Northern Link will go from Kam Sheung Road Station to Lok Ma Chau Station, and to Sheung Shui Station via Chau Tau Station.
There were suggestions to use the tracks of the West Rail Line to accommodate the future Regional Express to Guangzhou via Shenzhen. However, a dedicated corridor option was chosen during the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held on August 2007.
Another proposal suggests extending the West Rail Line southwards to Tuen Mun South.
A new railway station may be constructed along the existing viaduct between Siu Hong and Tin Shui Wai stations in the future at Hung Shui Kiu. This district was identified in 2003 as a potential site for a New Town which may accommodate up to 160,000 population in the future. This proposal has since been recommended for implementation, and government studies are presently being undertaken regarding a new station near Yick Yuen Road.
- Wade, Colin (2006). "Value Engineering West Rail". Arup Journal 3: 24. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
- 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.
- KCRC Press release
- MTRC urged to install CCTV cameras, RTHK, 30 January 2011
- "Day Pass – Monthly Pass" (PDF). Mass Transit Railway Corporation. February 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- Cheng, Jonathan (15 February 2007). "KCRC in pledge on safety". Hong Kong Standard. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
- "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 2007-02-18.
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