South Island Line

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South Island Line
Type Heavy rail
System MTR
Locale Districts: Central and Western, Southern

East section: 5

West section: 7
Track gauge 1,432 mm (4 ft 8 38 in) or 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Route map
South Island Line and West Island Line proposal.svg

North South Corridor
to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau
Up arrow
Up arrow
Island Line
to Chai Wan
Up arrow
Tsuen Wan Line
to Tsuen Wan
Down arrow
Tsuen Wan Line
to Central
Down arrow
Island Line
to Kennedy Town
Ocean Park
Wong Chuk Hang Depot
Wong Chuk Hang     
Left arrow
South Island Line (West)
to HKU
Aberdeen Channel
Lei Tung
South Horizons

The South Island Line is an under-construction extension of the Hong Kong MTR metro system. The new line would serve the southern end of Hong Kong Island, which at present is not serviced by any rail transport. This line will be divided into South Island Line (East) and South Island Line (West). The South Island Line (East) has been approved by the Executive Council of Hong Kong, and is now in construction stage. The South Island Line (East) is expected to open by the December of 2016 or February 2017. Plans for the South Island Line (West) is mentioned and revised in the 2014 governmental railway strategy report and construction is expected to begin in 2021.[1]

Original proposal[edit]

Alignment of Original Scheme

Route and stations[edit]

The MTR Corporation Limited (MTRC) submitted its first proposal for the South Island Line in May 2002. The new line was intended to promote tourism in Aberdeen. The West Island line would be an extension of the Island Line.

In the proposal, the South Island Line would be a semicircular line with nine stations, intended to serve the southern end of Hong Kong Island towards Aberdeen. It would interchange with the Island Line at University and Wan Chai, which would also be its terminus stations. The stations in between would be, from University, Cyberport, Wah Fu, South Horizons, Lei Tung, Wong Chuk Hang, Ocean Park, and Happy Valley.

On 21 January 2003, the Executive Council of Hong Kong made modifications to the South Island Line plans, to achieve a more cost-effective option and taking into account the parallel development of Route 4. However, the first proposal had some major drawbacks. Specifically, construction of West Island Line as heavy rail would not include Kennedy Town if there was no Western reclamation. There would also be environmental and traffic management challenges if West Island Line went under Des Voeux Road West. There would not be an Aberdeen station for serving the Aberdeen area, and a transfer station at Wan Chai would not cater well for the needs of cross-harbour trips (passengers would have to change to Island Line trains heading and again to Tsuen Wan Line trains at Admiralty for cross-harbour trips).

Preliminary scheme[edit]

Alignment of Preliminary Scheme. Notice that Option A of South Island Line serves the most.
Alignment of Preliminary Scheme. Option B is the most direct route from Southern District.
Alignment of Revised Alignment Scheme. This is by far the most publicised scheme. Option C serves the most but also costs the most.

In order to respond to the criticism directed towards the original proposal, the MTRC started a feasibility study of the lines in mid-2003 to look for cost effective options to improve the system. The study also evaluated the external benefits of the project and its impact on other modes of public transport. The company derived a modified proposal in November 2003, with three options of alignment in the South Island Line part, to address the drawbacks in the initial scheme.

Alignment and stations[edit]

The western section of the South Island Line was transferred to the West Island Line. The South Island Line will be a medium capacity system.

2002 alignment of South Island Line (East)[edit]

2004 revised alignment of South Island Line (East)[edit]

The corporation handed in the Revised Alignment Scheme in March 2004. South Island Line runs from South Horizons to Admiralty in the scheme, still having three alignment options.

2005 alignment options of South Island Line[edit]

Alignment of the 2005 scheme.

On 25 February 2005, the Panel of Transport of Legislative Council had a meeting discussing West and South Island Line. MTR has submitted a revised scheme on 22 February and an introduction to the scheme was conducted in the meeting.

The three alignment options of South Island Line were:

  • Option A: Ocean Park – Happy Valley – Wan Chai – Admiralty
    This alignment is the most expensive, but has the greatest catchment.
  • Option B: Ocean Park – Admiralty (no intermediate station)
    Reduces travel times from Southern District to CBD. Least expensive option.
  • Option C: Ocean Park – Admiralty (with possible extension to Wan Chai and Happy Valley)
    Similar to option B, but enables further extension to Happy Valley in the future.

South Island Line (West)[edit]

It was separated from the West Island Line in the last proposal, running from University to Wong Chuk Hang:

South Island Line (East)[edit]

It runs on the same alignment of South Island Line in Revised Scheme, and the three options stated before still exist. The line starts at South Horizons:

Discussions on the 2005 new plan[edit]

The MTR claimed that the latest scheme had the following advantages:

  1. No reclamation needed, and it alleviates air and noise pollution
  2. Supporting tourism in Southern District: as Wong Chuk Hang will soon have nine new hotels and Ocean Park will be redeveloped

The officials from Environment, Transport and Works Bureau said that consideration of funding depends on the development of tourism in Southern District, especially after the submission of Ocean Park redevelopment project.[citation needed]

In February 2007, the government announced in a Southern District Council meeting that the South Island Line was currently at a 4th priority when it came to future railway projects, much to the anger of the district councillors present.[2] This implied that the South Island Line was unlikely to be opened to the public before 2015.

On 10 October 2007, Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced in the policy address that the South Island Line would start construction in around 2011, and will be opened in 2015. On 27 October 2007, MTR announced that stations will be built in Wong Chuk Hang and around Ocean Park, but MTR did not confirm whether the line will pass through Wan Chai and Happy Valley.[3]

Project Detail[edit]

Interchange stations[edit]

The above scheme has interchanges at Hong Kong University, Wong Chuk Hang, & Admiralty. They have the following characteristics to enhance transfers.

HKU station
A new island platform will be built under the existing Island Line platforms. The upper island platform will serve Island Line trains while the lower one will serve the South Island Line (West) trains. The lower platforms can easily be accessed via escalators retrofitted on the existing Island Line platforms to the lower platforms.
Wong Chuk Hang station
Originally, the platform structure will be a double island platform with three tracks (Like the platform structure on Choi Hung Station). West Section trains use the center track while East Section trains use those on the two sides. A convenient cross-platform interchange can be made in both directions. However, according to the new plan, the West section platform will be only built over those in the east section.
A new island platform will be built under Queensway. Two 100-metre transfer passages will be built to connect the new station with existing station. Shortened transfer time can be made possible by installing escalators and conveyors. Possible passages can be built to connect them to the platforms of the Sha Tin to Central Link rail project.

Construction method[edit]

Most of the sections including stations will be underground. The alignment across Cyberport and the segment along the nullah of Wong Chuk Hang will be on a viaduct. Survey Management of the casting of the viaducts is being conducted by Jars Land Surveyors. A new bridge alongside the Ap Lei Chau Bridge will also be built.

More detailed construction methods on the running track and stations can be found here.

Rail system[edit]

A medium capacity system will be used. The rolling stock can be steel wheel over steel rail, similar to what MTR and KCR lines used. Rubber-tyred stock is more common in medium systems,[citation needed] and more flexible to decide the alignment of the rail lines as they can run on steep gradients and tight curves.

The final order for rolling stock for the new line consists of 10 new 3-car S-Trains using steel wheels. These trains are externally similar to the existing sets in service on the Kwun Tong Line, but will be fully automatic and driverless, being the second such line after the Disneyland Resort Line. They will operate with a frequency of three minutes during rush hour, and although stations on the new lines will be shorter than existing stations on other lines, they can be expanded as ridership demand increases.

Construction cost[edit]

According to the Progress Update by Highways Department to the Legislative Council Panel on Transport in March 2015, MTR "advised in November 2014 that the cost had increased to $15,200 million (in money-of-the-day prices)"[4]

Deferral of the scheme[edit]

On 28 May 2004, the Panel of Transport of Legislative Council held a meeting to consider the development of West and South Island Lines alongside with the highway link (Route 4).

Residential, environmental and some professional organisations support building the lines instead of highway. Rail links are more environmentally friendly and will help ease congestion of the Aberdeen Tunnel. The lines can also help sustainable development and will preserve the shoreline along western and southern Hong Kong Island.

Other transport operators and various organisations oppose the rail link, claiming that the rail link could lead to severe competition between different modes of transport, and that reduction of road transport might eventually cause job losses. Some panel members stated that the projected population growth in the south cannot support the new lines, and that the government should have a thorough plan on how to develop the Southern District before implementing the rail links.

However, some panel members suggested that the new lines could help promote tourism in the area. They asked the government to moderate the various modes of transport upon the new lines' inaugurations so as to relieve concerns from the transport operators.

Government officials stated that the low ridership of the West Rail Line and its rail incidents warranted extra planning on the new rail lines to ensure enough ridership and appropriate, cost-effective system design. Therefore, the West Island Line and South Island line project was deferred, and approval was given to the detailed planning of the highway.

Final/Executive Council scheme[edit]

On 18 December 2007, the Executive Council of Hong Kong approved the construction of the east section of South Island Line. A total of five stations will be built. The railway will be seven kilometres long, and it will take 10 minutes to travel from South Horizons Station to Admiralty Station. The railway will be a medium capacity system and cost HK$10 billion, which is 42% more than the original estimate of HK$7 billion of 2006. In contrast with previous schemes, Wan Chai Station will not be built, while the construction of Happy Valley Station is under negotiation between MTR Corporation and Hong Kong Jockey Club. It has also been suggested to rename the station to "Racecourse Station"; however, that name is already used by another existing station on the East Rail Line. The construction of the west section of South Island Line has not been confirmed yet.[5]

In June 2011 a resident of the South Horizons private residential estate at Ap Lei Chau filed suit against the government (including the chief executive, Transport Department, and Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau) in the High Court to block the construction of the South Island Line. His suit alleged that the dust resulting from the construction of the line would cause harm to trees, and that the importation of large numbers of mainland and South Asian construction workers posed a threat to public safety.[6]

Alignment and stations[edit]

Alignment of the latest scheme. Wan Chai Station and Happy Valley Station were omitted.

The east section runs on the same alignment of option B in Revised Alignment Scheme, with Happy Valley Station omitted:

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

Papers from Government and Legislature

Press releases

External links[edit]